Covid-19 quarantine measures and technology have seen artists and performers – as well as leading arts organisations – take their work online in ever and rapidly increasing numbers. But despite creating masses of new content, few are getting paid for their online efforts.
This weekend, the Arts Foundation of New Zealand launches Boosted Live – a fundraiser where artists can livestream their "creative mahi" (be that a reading, a living room dance, a gig in their bedroom or a showcase of their creative process) and get paid for it.
But rather than keeping the money he receives during his Boosted Live performance, one of the first artists to perform is giving it straight back to the foundation's Future Fund.
Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and music producer Arjuna Oakes, 20, was earlier this year named as one of the Arts Foundation's six Springboard recipients – those with outstanding potential to build an arts career.
Oakes, from West Auckland but now living in Wellington, received a $15,000 cash award as well as mentoring support from composer and Arts Foundation Laureate John Psathas. That's taken the financial pressure off the third-year Victoria University music student but he's well aware others are not so lucky.
"I want to fundraise for other artists and hopefully make life a bit easier for them," says Oakes.
"I didn't feel it would be right to say, 'okay, you've already given me this amazing award; now give me more' especially at this time."
Donations he receives during his Boosted Live performance will go to the Arts Foundation Future Fund, which is closing in on $50,000 thanks to philanthropists including Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.
The initial goal is to give $1000 to 50 projects once they reach $1000 – a dollar for dollar match – on Boosted. Eventually the foundation would like to raise $100,000 so 100 Boosted projects get the leg up they need to keep great art, music, theatre, dance and films being made.
Those performing this weekend - livestreams start this afternoon - include the NZ Symphony Orchestra, who will also give donations to the Future Fund, and dance company Black Grace.
Boosted is the country's only crowdfunding platform dedicated to raising money for artists and performers. As part of its drive to keep Aotearoa's creatives creating, Boosted will, for the next three months, remove its "all or nothing" structure so crowdfunders keep all their donations (minus a 10 per cent Boosted fee), whether they reach their fundraising goal or not. They'll have more chances to showcase their work via livestreams during these fundraising campaigns and record these for audiences to watch at later dates.
Oakes says being part of the campaign is the right thing to do at this time: "Music is suffering all around me and I want to make sure my fellow musicians survive."
He released new music earlier this month – planned long before the Covid-19 virus caused chaos - and will perform some, including his latest single One For which he describes as a romantic love song.
Oakes, who says his music is neo-soul with jazz and modern influences, hopes One For inspires people, even in a small way to look after their communities and show some love to their fellow human-beings.
"It is meant to put you in the shoes of a vulnerable lover, expressing their love, acknowledging the loneliness in their past, and dedicating a song to those who need comfort …"
Brought up in a musical family, Oakes has been performing from age 6 and can't imagine life without music. His last gig, with bandmates, was at Wairarapa's 121 Festival on the weekend of March 12–13 when it was becoming apparent that Covid-19 wasn't just something happening overseas and was about to have a monumental impact on New Zealanders.
Since lockdown began on March 25, Oakes has been at home with his girlfriend listening to new music recommended by Psathas – Tunisian musician Dhafer Youssef and Moses Sumney from the USA – writing and composing in his living room studio and continuing his studies.
While he says it will be good to perform this weekend, Oakes is looking forward to returning to playing with a band in front of a live audience. He acknowledges that may be sometime away and will no doubt start with smaller venues.
To watch livestreams or donate to Boosted, see boosted.org.nz The livestreams begin Friday afternoon.