Chief Executive’s report = Tā te Tumuaki rīpoata
Central to any review of the past year must be the Christchurch earthquakes and the response to the devastation they brought. Like many government departments, the Ministry moved quickly to deploy people and resources to the city, with staff on the ground in Christchurch and a dedicated team in Wellington. There are many lessons we have learnt, and continue to learn from this work, but there are two in particular that I take from it.
The first is the value and importance of cross-sector collaboration and sector leadership. The aftermath of the earthquakes has meant huge difficulties for the arts, heritage and sports sectors. From the loss of swimming pools, to damaged and homeless heritage collections, these sectors have had to respond to multiple and daunting challenges. It is by working together, sharing ideas and resources, and collectively planning and prioritising that progress has been made.
That progress has also required leadership: from departments, local government, state agencies, cultural organisations and individuals. It highlights for me the importance of the Ministry continuing to enhance its leadership in the cultural sector.
Of course a significant lesson from the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes is how crucial it is to plan and be prepared for the unexpected and the calamitous. This is clearly an area in which the cultural sector can work together and in which the Ministry can play a useful role.
My second key observation is how firmly I have been reminded of the importance of culture and of cultural activities to our communities. The people of Christchurch have felt the loss of their sports grounds, their performing arts venues, their stages and museum collections. Finding ways to get rugby matches, arts projects and music lessons back onto the Christchurch calendar has been a vital part of both ‘getting through’ and ‘getting back to normal’. Inevitably and understandably there has been and will continue to be debate about what we do with our damaged or vulnerable heritage buildings. There has been no debate, however, about the important role of culture in the city’s life. We’ve seen this in the many inventive and creative projects groups have run in their communities during the recovery period, and in the range of organisations and individuals coming together to support the restoration of Christchurch’s cultural infrastructure and events.
Cultural experiences are a fundamental part of our lives and our communities in their own right. But culture also has a significant role to play in promoting wider objectives – economic and social. Over the last year the Ministry has played a key part in cultural activities which contribute to a number of different government objectives. We have supported a range of events aligned with the Rugby World Cup and the associated REAL NZ Festival; we began work on New Zealand’s Guest of Honour position at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair; and we started a joint programme of work with the Ministry of Economic Development to review the effectiveness of government’s support for the screen in both cultural and economic terms.
Sector co-ordination and leadership have also been key aspects of the Ministry’s work over the last year. We have worked with our funded agencies to develop a shared overarching goal and outcomes for the sector; explored opportunities for sharing services and resources; and led policy work to investigate options for greater collaboration between agencies with shared areas of activity.
Greater collaboration brings many benefits. Not least it can generate efficiencies and savings and both deliver and demonstrate the cultural sector’s ‘value for money’. In an economic environment with continuing challenges, we need to keep finding ways to reduce costs and to increase non-government revenue. We also need to ensure that the sector is thinking strategically about the targeting and prioritising of resources across the sector. Government continues to look closely at its spending in all areas with a focus on ensuring resources are applied strategically and effectively. Being prepared through forward thinking about priorities will serve the cultural sector well when it comes to discussions with government about resourcing.
While a focus for me in the last year has been cross-sector collaboration and leadership, I also want to acknowledge the quantity, quality and range of work completed by the Ministry’s staff over the year. Legislative amendments, new online content, commemorative events, key policy projects, and information campaigns have all been part of our work. It has been a demanding year with an unusually high number of substantial projects underway – both anticipated and unexpected. I would like to particularly thank Ministry staff for the agility and responsiveness they have brought to a challenging work programme.
Chief Executive, Ministry for Culture and Heritage
Updated on 23rd July 2015