Skip to main content

COVID-19 Cultural Recovery Programme Impacts Report 2021/22

The COVID-19 Cultural Recovery Programme Impacts Report 2021/22 looks at the impacts of COVID-19 funding for the arts, culture, heritage, media and broadcasting sectors delivered between July 2021 and June 2022. In 2021/22, the initiatives delivered within the Programme had a combined budget of $152 million.

To assess impacts, data and evidence were analysed across the whole Programme against three overarching outcomes:

Whakahaumanu Ōhanga Economic Recovery
The sectors are economically stable, sustainable and adapting to a post-COVID environment. The sectors make a positive contribution to wider COVID-19 economic recovery.

He Kuhunga, He Whai Wāhitanga Māmā Better Access & Participation
New Zealanders have access to and participate in diverse and rich cultural experiences in a post-COVID environment.

He Rāngai Ngangahau, He Rāngai Auaha Vibrant, Innovative Sectors
The sectors collaborate, adapt and innovate in new ways, enhancing the quality, equity and relevance of content, knowledge, products and services in a post-COVID environment.

A snapshot of the findings can be found on this page. For full results please download the full report:

Download icon COVID-19 Cultural Recovery Programme Impacts Report 2021/22 (PDF 9MB)


In early 2020, COVID-19 was a new and significant risk for Aotearoa. Early economic forecasts showed that the pandemic and health restrictions would hit the cultural sector twice as hard as the wider economy.

Creatives, cultural sector organisations and businesses faced risks to employment and financial viability. There were also risks to preservation of heritage assets, mātauranga and taonga, and New Zealanders could not take part in cultural activities and experiences as before.

In May 2020, the Government made a significant targeted investment of $374 million in New Zealand’s cultural sectors as part of the COVID-19 response with the Arts and Culture COVID Cultural Recovery Programme. The government also worked with the media and broadcasting sector to rapidly develop the $50 million Media Sector Support Package and the $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund. In early 2022, a further up to $121 million was invested in the New Zealand arts and culture sector in response to the COVID-19 Delta and Omicron variants through the COVID Recovery Programme.

The COVID Cultural Recovery Programme has set up more than 25 initiatives. These initiatives have directly supported hundreds of artists, creatives, cultural practitioners, organisations and businesses, and communities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand to survive the impacts of COVID-19.

The Cultural Recovery Programme was designed to help the cultural sector survive, adapt and thrive in a post-COVID environment.

Key impacts

Overall, in 2021/22, the Programme was successful in meeting the immediate needs of the sector, maintaining operations and preserving employment. The Programme also:

  • Supported capability building and skills development for creative practitioners and communities
  • Enabled continued access to cultural participation opportunities and supported the creation of new works and content
  • Supported the preservation and protection of at-risk mātauranga and taonga Māori
  • Facilitated new collaborations between Government, the cultural sector, and the wider community.

Outcome 1: Whakahaumanu Ōhanga | Economic Recovery

In 2021/22, the COVID Cultural Recovery Programme helped organisations in the cultural sector to remain financially viable and continue operating. This included preserving and creating new employment. 

High-level modelling showed that the programme provided additional jobs in the cultural sector and wider economy. The programme also supported a wide range of capability and skills development for creative practitioners, staff and community members. These activities are likely to build a stronger arts, culture and heritage ecosystem, including in areas such as infrastructure to support the preservation and protection of mātauranga and taonga Māori.


Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme – Reimbursement and financial security was provided to thousands of creatives, support staff and organisations in the events sector for events affected by COVID-19.

Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund – 64 organisations (totalling $3.6 million) and approximately 1,300 individuals (totalling nearly $6.5 million, with individuals receiving $5,000 each) were provided direct financial support.

Screen Production Recovery Fund – The New Zealand Film Commission administered support for more than 41 productions to adopt COVID-19 health and safety measures and maintain operations and staffing. This included preserving and creating over 2,850 jobs for crew and actors.

New Zealand Music Recovery – New Zealand Music Venue Infrastructure Fund— More than 680 employees across 70 small venues in 25 towns and cities were supported through this fund which resulted in 95% of these venues being able to continue trading. 76.5% of venue owners surveyed in May 2022 said their venue would not have survived the pandemic without the support of the fund.

New Zealand Music Recovery – Aotearoa Touring Programme – 142 tours by New Zealand artists across 132 towns and cities were funded through the programme. This provided income for musicians, music workers and support personnel involved in the delivery of the tours.

Public Interest Journalism Fund – Rounds 2 and 3 of the Fund (administered by NZ On Air) supported 140 new roles and 10 training schemes to preserve and enhance at-risk public service journalism in newsrooms at the local, regional and national levels. These roles included journalists and reporters, editors, translators and audience engagement staff.

Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku – More than 180 employment opportunities were supported across the Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kotuku programme. The programme supported projects that pay fees to artists and other specialist practitioners to ensure continuity of practices and support intergenerational knowledge transmission. Eight internships were created in partnership with Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, the National Library of New Zealand, Archives New Zealand and Te Papa Tongarewa, as well as two internships in partnership with Te Matatini to support preparations for the national kapa haka festival.

Pasifika Festivals Initiative – Tasi ’21 Wave funding supported 16 festival organisations across 10 regions to remain financially viable and continue operations. This included preserving and creating 56 FTE roles or fixed-term contracts.

Museum Hardship Fund – The fund covered basic operating costs, staff wages and collection and building maintenance. This included the preservation and creation of 59 staff roles (mostly part-time).

Creative Spaces (CARE Fund) – This fund supported 54 creative spaces to deliver additional resourcing hours within their organisation, leading to a 19% increase in the number of employees.

Creative Careers Service Pilot –This initiative supported creative professionals to develop non-creative skills including business planning, applying for grants, marketing and branding, social media, networking, legal and financial advice, as well as building the confidence to face the challenges of COVID-19. Māori participants also noted the importance of having a culturally safe environment when engaging in skills development programmes.

Outcome 2: He Kuhunga, He Whai Wāhitanga Māmā | Better Access and Participation

Funding from the COVID Recovery Programme supported the preservation and protection of mātauranga and taonga Māori. The funding contributed to the Crown’s responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi to support te tino rangatiratanga of iwi/hapū over their taonga.

The Programme helped to preserve and grow opportunities for cultural participation throughout New Zealand. The Programme supported the creation of new works and content and provided funding to address barriers to cultural participation and increase access to cultural opportunities for some groups, including Māori and Pacific peoples.


The Arts and Culture Events Support Scheme – 110 insured events went ahead, including 47 that received some reimbursement from the scheme, with an estimated total audience of 379,000 people.

Creatives in Schools Programme – In Funding Round 3, almost all teachers who were involved (95%) said the programme enabled students to participate in creative practices they might not otherwise have access to.

Cultural Sector Innovation Fund – Of the 185 projects funded, 41% were identified as supporting Māori arts and culture. Many projects focused on directly enhancing, nourishing or transmitting mātauranga Māori.

Cultural Sector Capability Fund – Out of the 39 projects funded via Capability Fund (contestable fund delivered by Manatū Taonga), 27 (69%) reported that the project would contribute to the adaptation and continued practice of ngā toi Māori and tiaki taonga in a COVID-19 environment.

Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku programme – Over 160 wānanga were held with at least 1,870 attendees on a variety of kaupapa supporting the protection, retention and transmission of mātauranga Māori. The Programme also created opportunities for cultural participation, with at least 28,000 people attending events supported by Te Papa and Creative New Zealand Te Awe Kōtuku funding.

New Zealand Music Recovery – New Zealand Music Venue Infrastructure Fund – 70 venues were funded to host original New Zealand music performances and improve COVID-related health and safety measures. Combined, funding recipients hosted over 96 performances of original New Zealand music every week – nearly 5,000 shows in 12 months.

Pasifika Festivals Initiative – Funding increased festival providers’ capability and capacity to deliver festivals with online and digital components. This included building new digital infrastructure (e.g., website and platforms) as well as new online features (such as live streaming and engagement with social media), which helped to increase the size and quality of events and audience participation.

Outcome 3: He Rāngai Ngangahau, He Rāngai Auaha | Vibrant, Innovative Sectors

The COVID Cultural Recovery Programme was delivered in a way that supported iwi/Māori relationships and partnerships throughout New Zealand in their community aspirations, mātauranga and taonga. This included partnerships within the community, across the cultural sector and with Government.

The Programme supported new collaborations between Government, the cultural sector and the wider community. These collaborations have led to new opportunities to increase sustainability, revitalise mātauranga and taonga and foster innovation.

The Programme funded a range of projects that aim to develop unique and innovative solutions to address ongoing challenges and create new opportunities for the cultural sector. However, in-depth insights about innovation were not available in 2021/22. This will be an area of focus for impacts reporting in 2022/23.


Mātauranga Māori Te Awe KōtukuMarae Ora –Between 2020 and 2022, 116 marae communities were funded to retain, protect or transmit their mātauranga and care for their taonga. Of these, 78 received funding in 2021/22 totaling $4.4 million.

Pasifika Festivals Initiative – A co-design ‘Kaupapa Pasifika’ approach was used in the delivery of this initiative featuring partnerships between Government agencies, delivery partners and festival organisers. The co-design process included participation in a series of Zono, talanoa via Zoom, drop-in sessions and in-person discussions. This approach facilitated the building of a cohesive Pasifika Festivals network and strengthened the va of the Pasifika Festivals ecosystem

Cultural Activators Pilot (CARE Fund) – A new approach was used to activate the arts in lower population regions and underserved communities. Eight Cultural Activators collaborated with their communities to tell their stories, build creative skills and connect to opportunities in the wider cultural sector.

Creatives in Schools Programme – Participants reported strong relationship building between creatives, teachers and students. For example, in 2021/22, 65% of creatives said the programme helped to build transferrable skills in networking and connecting with places, and 70% of creatives felt it helped them to build skills to collaborate with schools and teachers (26% reported already being skilled in this area). In Funding Round 3, almost all teachers (94 out of 95) said the project helped them connect well with students to share ideas and experiences, and 85% said the project increased their confidence to collaborate with creatives in the future.

Cultural Sector Innovation Fund – The Fund invested $32.7 million to support 185 projects across New Zealand, which aimed to provide innovative solutions in the key areas of increasing commercial opportunities for the cultural sector, building sector sustainability and resilience, increasing access and cultural participation and safeguarding mātauranga Māori. The fund fostered new collaborations between Manatū Taonga, funding applicants and the broader cultural sector. This was the primary focus of the application stage, which was delivered through a series of workshop events throughout New Zealand called Te Urungi attended by approximately 1000 creative practitioners.

Museum Hardship Fund – Several funding recipients reported that the support to remain operational had flow-on effects and strengthened the relationships with their communities and other stakeholders.


Key lessons were identified to strengthen Manatū Taonga COVID Recovery Programme delivery and impact measurement:

  1. Focusing COVID Recovery Programme investment on responding to the risks of Delta and Omicron in 2021/22 was appropriate and successful in addressing the immediate needs of the cultural sector. However, this took away resources (funding and capacity) from other initiatives, especially those with longer-term goals, and affected relationship management and monitoring systems and processes. It is important to fully consider these trade-offs and how to mitigate the downsides of sudden shifts in delivery.
  2. Good relationships are critical for effective delivery, especially for initiatives seeking longer-term transformations or involving co-design or community partnerships. This includes relationships between Manatū Taonga and delivery partners, as well as with funding recipients and their stakeholders. It is important to allow adequate time to develop these relationships, and to consider delivery context, initiative goals and timeframes and their impacts on stakeholders.
  3. Initiative timeframes and milestones should be aligned with the outcomes sought and the delivery approach. Pilots or short-term projects may not be conducive to achieving longer-term outcomes such as sustainability and resilience or in the preservation and protection of mātauranga Māori.
  4. Understanding the impacts of investments such as the COVID Recovery Programme requires appropriate monitoring processes and systems within Manatū Taonga and across funded initiatives. Further development of the tools and infrastructure to support effective monitoring and data management is required to be able to evidence impacts robustly and consistently over time. This includes considering monitoring and impact measurement needs during programme design, as well as continuing to develop capability and systems to measure impacts.
  5. COVID Recovery Programme impact measurement should continue to adapt to the changing environment, as this will shape delivery and outcomes. During 2021/22 and more recently, new risks have emerged for the cultural sector and New Zealanders, including a cost of-living crisis and extreme weather events.
  6. Currently, a range of impact measurement activities are underway to strengthen the COVID Recovery Programme evidence base for 2022/23. Going forward, there is opportunity to build on these activities to deepen COVID Recovery Programme insights and inform wider policy and practice in the cultural sector.

Updated on 4th September 2023