$1 million boost for regional arts and cultural activities

11 September 2015

Some open air events at the New Zealand Festival will be free to the public for three weeks in February and March next year thanks to funding support from the Wellington Regional Amenities Fund.

A nighttime picture of the crowd at the Big Bang Festival.

Big Bang festival. Image credit: Matt Grace


Chair of the fund, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, says the New Zealand Festival has played an important role in bringing high quality events to Wellington and building the city’s reputation as the arts capital of New Zealand.

Regional funding for the New Zealand Festival will contribute to the staging of three open air events in the festival - relating to dance, music, and an interactive exhibition.

Mayors from six local councils which contribute to the amenities fund considered 23 projects across a wide cross-section of arts, cultural and environmental activities.

Ten projects were selected for funding of more than $1 million ranging from the Aratoi Museum of Art and History in Masterton through to the Circa Theatre construction programme, the highly popular LUX Festival, Orchestra Wellington, and the New Zealand Festival, which received the largest single grant.

“We set out to use the money to develop and sustain regionally significant entities for the benefit of local residents and visitors,” Mayor Wade-Brown says.

The Wairarapa’s Museum of Art and History, Aratoi in Masterton, received funds to support its 2016 exhibitions and programmes. Plans to upgrade Kāpiti Coast’s Mahara Gallery exhibition space to house and display a nationally significant collection of 24 works by Frances Hodgkins, held in the collection of the Field family, were also supported.

The Wellington Zoo and Zealandia’s Nature Connections programme that works with 10 conservation and environmental attractions around the region including Pukaha Mt Bruce, Staglands and Nga Manu, received a grant. So did the popular Matariki Festival that takes place at galleries and museums across Wellington each year.  

Funding has also been provided for a Wellington Museums Trust programme to subsidise travel for lower-decile schools to visit the Capital which Mayor Wade-Brown says is important to ensure children across the region can visit Capital city institutions like Te Papa, Parliament and Archives NZ where the Treaty of Waitangi is held. She says Wellington city is an education destination for New Zealand schools.

Projects funded by the committee were:

  • Aratoi Museum of Art and History $35,000
  • Circa Theatre $195,000
  • Festival of the Elements $15,000
  • LUX Festival Trust $95,000
  • Mahara Gallery $50,000
  • Matariki Festival $95,000
  • Nature Connections (Zoo and Zealandia) $75,000
  • New Zealand Festival $345,000
  • Orchestra Wellington $75,000
  • Wellington Museums Trust, Kids to the Capital Nationhood project, $70,000.