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Cultural Philanthropy

New Zealanders participate in the cultural sector as artists and performers, as viewers and audiences, as heritage advocates and as communities and supporters – both voluntary and professional. Government and private support for the cultural sector grew significantly through the second half of the 20th century – improving infrastructure and enabling an increasingly professional sector to become a valued part of our environment.

Here is a rundown of various cultural philanthropy activities undertaken over the past few years.

2019 resources

Ron Mueck's new work for Christchurch Art Gallery was installed in April 2019. This is the fifth and final instalment in the great works series for the Gallery, marking the end of one chapter and a new beginning for Christchurch. In 2017 the Gallery ran the biggest art crowdfunding campaign in New Zealand and thanks to the generous support of 521 people, the sculpture was purchased for the city entirely from private donations after a record-breaking fundraising campaign.

Christchurch's new $1m artwork by famed sculptor Ron Mueck unveiled

2017 resources

A Christchurch Art Gallery crowd funding campaign to raise $207,000 for a new sculpture by Australian artist Ron Mueck has been successful. The Press reported in November that $219,481 had been pledged, which beat the gallery's previous national crowdfunding record, set in 2013 when $206,000 was raised for Michael Parekowhai's sculpture of a bull on a piano.

Christchurch Art Galley campaign for new Mueck sculpture hits target

In February the arts-crowdfunding platform ‘Boosted’ reached a significant milestone, raising over $3 million dollars for arts and creative projects in a sector typically dominated by competitive funding bodies. This impressive $3 million contribution equates to over 22,857 donations across 568 projects in fine-arts, film, theatre, music, dance, writing, fashion, gaming and photography. Boosted's focus on the arts has achieved an 84% success rate, one of the highest of its kind in the world.

New Zealand Arts Funding Platform Reaches $3 Million Milestone

Also this month, Michael Parekowhai's artwork The Lighthouse, was unveilled at Auckland's Queens Wharf. The Lighthouse is the largest gift of public art that Auckland has ever received and was donated to the city by real estate firm Barfoot & Thompson Ltd to acknowledge its 90 years in business.  Barfoot & Thompson gifted $1 million towards the overall $1.5 million art project.

The Lighthouse lights up this Saturday

2016 resources

A December 2016 New Zealand Herald article about the sponsorship of the arts notes that the overall annual arts revenue increased from $71.37 million in 2012 to $98.42 million in 2015. Annual revenue from philanthropic and sponsorship sources rose by $4.48 million from $13.41 million to $17.89 million - an increase of more than 33 per cent.  The private sector accounts for a total 17 per cent of all sponsorship and philanthropic funding in the arts sector.

Sponsorship of the arts - what's in it for business?

Dunedin-based jeweller and carver Craig McIntosh is the first recipient of Dame Doreen’s Gift, a brand new $8000 award in the craft/object art sector to an outstanding artist. Announced in August 2016, Dame Doreen’s Gift is named after notable New Zealand potter and arts educator, the late Dame Doreen Blumhardt, who established the Blumhardt Foundation in 2003 “to advance the New Zealand craft/object art sector”.

Dunedin artist recognised by new national award from The Blumhardt Foundation

In July it was announced that arts patron and philanthropist Sir James Wallace will fund two scholarships and a prize to support creative writing in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland. Two Sir James Wallace Master of Creative Writing Scholarships are awarded each year to incoming Master of Creative Writing (MCW) students. At the end of the programme, the Sir James Wallace Master of Creative Writing Prize is awarded to the writer who has produced the best portfolio of work. The scholarships are valued at $3,500 each, and the prize is valued at $5,000 — New Zealand’s richest prize for a creative writing student.

Sir James is steadfast in his support of the arts, and encourages others to follow his lead. “Philanthropy is of vital importance for all communities. It is the civic and moral duty of those that are in the position to do so to support appropriate institutions, causes or individuals financially and in other ways. By doing so they contribute to improving and enriching the lives of those around them, which in turn can be very rewarding for the philanthropist.”

Sir James Wallace supports creative writing

In July The Art of Remembrance celebrated making history with $1 million raised to save a national memorial, the Soldiers’ Church in Auckland through an architectural-scale, commemorative art installation and worldwide outreach project. This has become the largest sum ever fundraised through art in New Zealand.

Record Art Sales Raise a Million Dollars to Save Historic “Soldiers’ Church”

This May 2016 evaluation report assessed how effectively Creative New Zealand's three-year Creative Giving Pilot grew the capability and capacity of arts and cultural organisations to source and increase funding from the private sector.

Evaluation of the Creative Giving Pilot 2011-2014

A Dominion Post article 'People power' published on 16 April 2016 mentions that there are about 10 players in the New Zealand crowd funding space including PledgeMe which has raised over $8.6 million since its formation. Another key player in crowd funding for the arts is Boosted.  Boosted is Australasia’s only crowdfunding platform solely dedicated to the arts. Launched in 2013, it has grown exponentially, raising $1 million over 2013-2015, and doubling that to reach $2 million just one year later. Almost 300 projects have been successfully funded on Boosted.

$2 Million Crowdfunded for Kiwi Artists

Radio New Zealand highlighted two reports on philanthropy in Auckland that are due to be released.  One asks what motivates philanthropists, and what they hope will come from their donations.  The other gives potential donors advice on groups - like the arts - that are most in need of private funding. The Auckland Communities Foundation is behind the reports and in its first five years of working with philanthropists, it's distributed more than 5 million dollars in grants. The Foundation's Chair, Geoff Clews, is an Auckland tax barrister and longtime supporter of the Arts. He's set up the Rampart Endowment Fund to promote arts education. Radio New Zealand's Lynn Freeman asked Geoff why New Zealanders seem much more reluctant philanthropists than those in countries like America.

Listen to the 27 March 2016 interview with Geoff Clews here.

The Funding Network (TFN) is a global network of non-profit organisations that host live crowd-funding events in a fun and inclusive setting. TFN members nominate and select four social entrepreneurs with small, non-profit organisations, who then pitch for funding from the audience at each live event. Adopting a model that has flourished in the UK since 2002, Auckland Communities Foundation has helped to bring The Funding Network to New Zealand and make it possible for individuals, foundations and corporations to give collectively (in increments starting from as little as $100), aiming to raise at least $10,000 for each organisation making a pitch. Four Auckland arts charities each raised more than $10,000 for their cause at The Funding Network’s event in March 2016.

Four Auckland arts charities benefit from Kiwi generosity

The Ministry's CE Paul James spoke to Radio New Zealand in February 2016 about how the Ministry is inviting arts organisations to look further afield for its funding.  The Ministry suggests looking for funding from individual philanthropists, as well as the increasingly popular crowd-funding for smaller projects.

Standing Room Only interview with Paul James

A Radio New Zealand news item from 29 February 2016 examined the issue of tax credits for charitable donations, with Creative New Zealand concerned that tougher rules might put people off from donating to art causes. Both Creative New Zealand and Te Papa have told IRD that changes could have a significant effect on arts organisations as adding too much complexity could put donors off.

Are people breaching tax laws by claiming rebates on donations?

2015 resources

In April 2015, it was announced that the Arts Foundation’s crowdfunding platform, Boosted, had granted more than $1 million to New Zealand arts projects in two years.

A $1 million Boost for the Arts

Read a July 2015 media release from Boosted about being on track to raise another $1 million in its third year.

A New Way To Raise Money For The Arts

2014 resources

Radio New Zealand's Standing Room Only show featured a segment about crowd funding on 23 February 2014. Family and friends are usually the main targets for artists seeking money via crowd funding websites, but not always.

Radio New Zealand crowd funding item.

In March 2014, Boosted, the Arts Foundation’s crowd funding website announced that it has raised more than $325,000 for New Zealand arts projects in its first year.  In June 2014, the Boosted website won the Innovative Technology for Good Citizenship Award at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Awards. With the success of the theatre project The Generation of Z, it was announced in July 2014 that Boosted has successfully raised half a million dollars for the arts in New Zealand. Westpac announced in October 2014 a significant sponsorship of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand including its specialist arts crowdfunding website, Boosted.

BOOSTED celebrates one year of success.

Boosted works for the arts

International acclaim for Boosted

Boosted raises half a million dollars for the arts

Westpac Boosts the Arts Foundation

On 1st April 2014, new crowd funding regulations were introduced allowing platforms such as PledgeMe to support businesses to find investment from their crowds. This will allow businesses to raise up to $2 million a year through licensed crowd funding websites by issuing shares or other incentives to the public.

NZ financial markets enter new era

Auckland's Artspace released a report into private funding opportunities for small to medium scale visual arts organisations in May 2014 which argues a case for support based on the specificity of an organisation such as Artspace.  It also considers the intangible yet seminal contribution that such small-scale organisations make to the social and cultural life of New Zealand and beyond.

Staying Alive: some thoughts on opportunities for private funding for small scale visual arts organisations in New Zealand.

2013 resources

Creative New Zealand announced in February 2013 that 7 arts organisations have raised more than $95,500 from the private sector with support from Creative New Zealand’s Matched Funding Scheme.

Creative New Zealand's Matched funding scheme

Minister Christopher Finlayson's press release

Creative New Zealand's February 2013 press release about organisations that have raised funds.

The Arts Foundation has established Boosted to build a new generation of arts donors. It is described as being the only genuinely philanthropic crowd funding website for arts projects in New Zealand and was launched in March 2013. 

New Zealand arts get major crowdfunding boost

New crowd-funding website Boosted welcomed

The Include A Charity Trust launched the ‘Include A Charity Week’ from 9 to 15 September 2013. With it came New Zealand’s first communications campaign to prompt awareness and positive action towards bequesting – the simple act of a person leaving a gift in a will to charity. It is also the first time around 50 New Zealand charities have joined together to promote the opportunity for people to gift through their will. Some of the charities you can support include the Ballet Foundation of New Zealand and the NZSO Foundation.

Include a Charity website.

A six-week ‘Back the Bull’ crowd funding campaign, run by the Christchurch Art Gallery Trust raised $206,050 – the largest total ever pledged for a crowd funding project in New Zealand at this time.  The campaign, to buy internationally renowned New Zealand artist Michael Parekowhai's Chapman’s Homer for Christchurch, officially ended on Monday 30 September 2013 and was organised through PledgeMe.

Crowd Funding brings back the bull.

2012 resources

In July 2012, Creative New Zealand announced that it will invest $1.05 million over the next three years to enhance the arts and culture sector’s ability to source private sector funding. 'Creative Giving' is a targeted programme which will provide advice and support to selected arts and cultural organisations so they can increase the funding they receive from individual donors, businesses, trusts and foundations.

Listen to a 4 July 2012 Radio New Zealand interview with Peter Biggs about the Creative Giving programme. Establishing a fundraising capability building initiative (based on successful models overseas) was one of several Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce recommendations to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage (in its December 2010 report Growing the Pie). In an 08 July 2012 Radio New Zealand interview, Guy Mallabone offers tips for New Zealand art organisations wanting to get involved.

Creative New Zealand's Creative giving

July 2012 Radio New Zealand interview with Peter Biggs

July 2012 Radio New Zealand interview with Guy Mallabone

Creative New Zealand's Matched Funding Scheme which provides financial incentives to help arts, culture and heritage organisations was launched in September 2012.  In November 2012, Minister Christopher Finlayson acknowledged the role of cultural philanthropy in supporting the Sistema Aotearoa programme.

2011 resources

In  April 2011, we co-hosted a seminar with Arts Wellington highlighting how the arts can help repair, restore and renew communities after natural disasters.  The two Australian speakers Sylvia Admans and Louise Walsh also spoke about  how the arts in Australia have been able to sustain private support. Audio clips from this seminar are available on our website.

Christchurch Earthquake Recovery April 2011 seminar

In November 2011, we organised a seminar featuring Guy Mallabone,  a Canadian specialist in arts philanthropy and fundraising.  Listen to a 20 November 2011 Radio New Zealand interview with Guy.  You can listen to a later Radio New Zealand Concert interview in June 2012 when Guy was a keynote speaker at Creative New Zealand's '21st Century Arts Conference'.

November 2011 Radio New Zealand interview with Guy Mallabone

June 2012 Radio New Zealand interview with Guy Mallabone.

2010 resources

In a 2010 report (Cultural organisations : giving and sponsorship), we surveyed 480 cultural organisations and found that, at the time of the study, there were proportionately low levels of income derived from private giving (which includes individuals, companies, trusts and foundations) and from sponsorship. Later that year we released Growing the pie : increasing the level of cultural philanthropy in Aotearoa New Zealand / Report of the Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Hon Christopher Finlayson. This report makes six key recommendations to increase charitable giving to the cultural sector.

Cultural organisations : giving and sponsorship

Growing the pie : increasing the level of cultural philanthropy in Aotearoa New Zealand / Report of the Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Hon Christopher Finlayson


Updated on 2nd September 2019