Support for the arts has picked up in the Bay since the recession, but a lot more could still be done to get behind local artists and performers, arts facilitators say.
Creative New Zealand figures show Tauranga/Western Bay of Plenty arts funding has decreased markedly over the past five financial years - down more than $90,000 from year ending June 30, 2010, to $137,625 in the past financial year.
The recession had a big impact on support for local arts, Creative Tauranga chief executive Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell said. "Funding for arts has historically always been hard, but it's been a particular struggle for quite a few years now.
"Arts are always hit very hard during tough financial times, but this time there's also been a change in government and the Christchurch earthquakes to contend with."
Ms Rudduck-Gudsell said the earthquakes resulted in a stronger investment focus in Canterbury, which had a domino effect of less sponsorship and funding for arts in other parts of the country.
"In recent years, people have been looking to do things for free or really cheap, which has meant it's been really hard for a lot of artists to have a model that can pay for itself."
It had been particularly challenging for emerging artists.
"It can be hard for them to break through when there's limited support and already established events that will receive repeat funding as they develop and grow," she said.
Bay of Plenty painter Timo Rannali likewise said the arts sector had been hit hard during the recession.
"I know some artists who found it difficult to make any money during the recession. Sales have picked up now but they're still not as good as they were pre-recession."
The time had come for investors to loosen their purse strings around the arts.
"I think the state of a city's arts are a reflection of a city's health. With more support, we could put Tauranga on the map."
Greater investment in the arts would not only benefit the city culturally and socially, but also financially, he said.