From September to December 2021, Manatū Taonga sought feedback from sector stakeholders and the public on the initial topic for our first Long-Term Insights Briefing (LTIB): ‘What are the components of an impactful and sustainable cultural sector into the future,’ with a focus on ‘cultural sector infrastructures – the physical, social, and dynamic components that comprise the cultural sector ecosystem.’ As outlined in the consultation document, we asked for feedback specifically on the components we had identified as a starting point, as well as the drivers of change, risks and opportunities that could arise looking into the future to 2040.
Through a public survey, a series of online workshops and written submissions, we received feedback from over 150 sector stakeholders and organisations. Following this consultation, we analysed the feedback to identify key themes. This document provides a high-level summary of these themes and outlines the next steps Manatū Taonga will undertake in the LTIB process.
Figure 1: Sample word cloud illustrating themes from workshop question: What is your vision for the future of the cultural sector?
Theme 1: Centring community voices
“Processes like this provide a next step for sector consultation, but there is more to be done – particularly through engagement with regional communities, under connected communities as well as partnership within Te Ao Māori.”
Te Ao Māori should be at the centre of the cultural sector—and the LTIB
“There is an increasing acknowledgement and move for Te Ao Māori to be at the centre of the sector. This would change the whole conversation around the lenses we look through as a sector.”
As Te Tiriti partners, Te Ao Māori should be at the centre of the cultural sector, and reflected as such in the LTIB by being integrated into all aspects of the process and content. More nuanced thinking is needed, including a greater focus on innovation and leadership. Capacity and capability building is important to support Māori aspirations and mana motuhake. Greater partnership and engagement with iwi/Māori are needed in future processes, with co-design the ideal approach.
Greater emphasis on diverse voices and community are needed, and are important in addressing structural inequity and bias
“In order to be responsive to people, who are meeting the needs of the moment and the future, we need to have a cultural policy framework that is concerned with transparency, accessibility, flexibility and democracy.”
Taking a ‘people-centred approach’ that incorporates diverse community voices (i.e. youth, ethnic communities, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+) is important in considering the future of the cultural sector. This is especially important to consider how future changes will impact access and participation and to address inequities within current systems and structures. More effort should be made in future to ensure consultation processes and related materials are relevant and accessible to all stakeholders.
Population changes will present specific challenges, risks and opportunities. Cultural democracy should be considered an important driver for the future as the nation becomes more diverse, and transparent and accessible policy frameworks are required to support this.
Cultural sector structures and models
“Partnerships, collaboration and co-investment are the building blocks for strengthening the ecosystem and infrastructure. Collaboration needs to be across multiple layers, and could be through the establishment of a crossministerial working party or a national advisory group. New investment models are needed that de-emphasise siloed and short-term funding and focus on collaborative and sustainable regional investment.”
Theme 2: Current funding and investment models contribute to the sector’s siloed structure, requiring a shift to more collaborative models
“By better linking communities and organisations so they can build on what they do well and define their purpose so each has a role in our cultural network, they can therefore support each other rather than compete with each other. This creates better understanding and buy in from the public, whether they are local or international.”
Within sector operations, some traditional models and structures are not serving the sector, especially in light of recent upheavals in the way the sector functions. It is hard to consider risks and opportunities into the future (i.e. to 2040), when there are pressing issues around sustainability facing the sector now.
The cultural sector is diverse and siloed in its structure, therefore it is challenging to define it, including in terms of roles and responsibilities. This structure breeds competition between sector stakeholders and organisations, further fragmenting the sector.
Further investment and alternative investment models are needed, and it is time to consider what that investment could look like. For example, greater investment in technology and innovation are needed to keep pace with development in other sectors. Indeed, innovation is one of the key drivers to ensuring the future of the arts and creative sector and it needs to be better supported.
It would be beneficial to consider how different aspects of the sector are interrelated, and how more joined-up, collaborate approaches could combat issues with competition and segmentation. A greater focus on strong leadership could also help the sector to become more resilient and adapt to current and future risks. A key question is what role central and local government should play in future investment models.
The changing digital world is a key area of both opportunity and risk
“These platforms are here to stay. News companies are delivering a lot of news on Facebook, and I think they will continue to be a big part of this sector. We need to think about the media sector also including social media. It is crucial that when we think long-term, we think about the platform eco-system we operate in.”
In recent times, there has been a marked increase in digital and online engagement, both in terms of the content and offerings available and audience uptake of these. New delivery mechanisms and strategies are being employed across the sector, leading to shifts in how audiences experience cultural goods and experiences. This trend is being experienced unevenly, however, and may present challenges for smaller organisations and individual creatives without the capability or capacity to capitalise on this opportunity, as well as those art/cultural forms that require in-person experience.
There are emerging issues and risks around monetising digital content, the increasing competition seen across the global market, and the ‘digital divide’. Regulatory intervention for digital platforms may be needed to protect New Zealanders from dis/misinformation and to ensure content creators and their intellectual and cultural property are valued, well compensated and protected.
To understand the cultural sector better, we should focus on the ‘ecosystem’ rather than ‘infrastructures’ or ‘sectors’
“It seems like as we collectively re-imagine and re-design the systemic structures that feed into the arts, culture and creative ecosystem, it is vital to have a deep and crystal clear understanding of this intricate, multifaceted ecosystem and how it flows from flaxroots activity through to professional output.”
As an alternative to examining ‘infrastructure,’ considering the cultural sector ‘ecosystem’ more holistically will provide greater insights. An overarching cultural strategy/vision for the cultural sector — as well as for the LTIB — with associated policy could help with the shift toward ecosystem thinking.
In doing so, it is important to consider the unique challenges, risks and opportunities present in the different areas that comprise this ecosystem. Some sectors (i.e. heritage, media) were not as well represented in the consultation document.
Theme 3: The value of the cultural sector
“We need to work together and have a stronger voice internally and externally to showcase the value we bring.”
Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique bicultural identity is valuable, and it must be safeguarded
“Whether its corporate, organizational, tribal, indigenous or national, all cultures encounter the same question; how and what must it do to preserve, evolve, and safekeep the fruits of its unique existence?”
Our unique identity as a bicultural nation under Te Tiriti is valuable to the international marketplace and New Zealand’s economy. Telling quality NZ stories and incorporating NZ content and voices into mainstream offerings is important to maintain and grow this identity. However, while sharing our culture, we must also put in place the systems and mechanisms to protect it from appropriation and commodification. This is especially important when considering the role of Te Ao Māori in New Zealand’s national and international identity.
Robust data and insights are needed to understand and evidence the value of the cultural sector
“There is a place for the government to do a big piece of modelling of where we are in the landscape of the culture sector as a whole. Really building a case for the value proposition. Other sectors can far more quickly demonstrate their value to the government – this sector needs to be able to do the same.”
The cultural sector provides many benefits to New Zealand and New Zealanders. However, the value of the cultural sector is not generally well understood, and the sector has been undervalued historically. This is partially due to a lack of investment in data and insights. Greater investment in robust measurement, research and evaluation — and capacity building within the sector in these areas — will strengthen the evidence base to promote and enhance the value of the cultural sector, and highlight the important contributions of the cultural sector. This is key to building the case for future investment. Throughout this endeavour, a holistic view is needed to capture the full range of benefits afforded, including economic, social and wellbeing lenses.
Education is essential in ensuring creative careers are viable, sustainable and valued
“NZ suffers from low-salaries and an underinvestment in (academic) training within the cultural sector. Pay, as well as training, education and support should be at the forefront.”
Education needs to be a driver of change, and cultural and creative learning opportunities and pathways should be embedded throughout the education pipeline. Participation in arts and cultural activities through schooling is vital to ensuring a sustainable sector in the future and to realise the benefits of cultural participation.
People need to be able to consider a creative career as a sustainable and rewarding option. To do this, more work needs to be undertaken to ensure that people are receiving the right training and support to enable sustainability and growth, and greater professionalisation needs to occur for creative careers. Creating sustainable careers is tied to how the value of the sector is understood.
Manatū Taonga is taking on board the feedback we have received to refine our LTIB topic and how we engage with stakeholders into the future. As a result, we’ve refined our topic to: ‘Into the future, what are some of the key areas that will influence the vibrancy and resilience of the cultural sector ecosystem?’ This revised topic and a set of five areas of focus will provide the basis for more in-depth discussion with sector stakeholders in a second round of consultation in August and September 2022.
The discussions and insights from these stakeholder workshops will then help shape the draft LTIB document. This draft LTIB will then have broader consultation in October 2022. After this consultation, and taking into account the submissions received, Manatū Taonga will finalise the LTIB for presentation to Select Committee before the end of 2022.
Updated on 6th September 2022