Board members of The Arts Foundation and local arts patrons came together recently to celebrate arts and culture in Hawke's Bay.
While here, the group experienced some highlights of the region's art scene and by all accounts, the region came up trumps.
During the event, critical conversations about the future of arts patronage in New Zealand occurred.
The Arts Foundation was established more than 20 years ago to honour New Zealand artists. Over these 20 years, patrons of the organisation have given visual and performing artists financial awards totalling $10 million.
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Following the pandemic lockdown I talked about the role of arts philanthropy in times of economic downturn. Of course, the importance of private funding for the arts is ongoing and not at all confined to times of crisis.
Private philanthropy is behind some of the world's oldest and greatest art museums and collections. Generous commissions have helped to bring many of the world's most significant artworks into the world. In many cases it has supported creatives to push into new artistic territory where the public may be slow to get on board and sales may not be forthcoming.
In New Zealand, the country's presence at international art fairs such as la Biennale di Venezia is in part due to central government funding, but relies heavily on additional support from public galleries and museums, sponsors, artists' gallerists, and the broader arts community.
"New Zealand at Venice" patrons contribute around a third of the budget for New Zealand's presence at that event.
Whether you agree or not that the arts should benefit from private funding, there are some advantages.
Independent or private funding makes sense, as creative expression is often made subject to political and economic interests - here philanthropy can promote and defend independent artistic expression.
If you take the total arts and culture income in New Zealand, the proportion of charitable funding is double that of any other sector excluding sports. Meaning, the arts is significantly more reliant on philanthropic funding than the rest of the charity sector.
In 2009, Cabinet Minister Chris Finlayson summed it up when he said "The culture of private giving which adds so much to the resources of many overseas institutions is much less well entrenched here."
At that time Finlayson was introducing a task force who had a mandate to improve levels of philanthropic giving across the country.
Five years on, government figures showed that philanthropic income for the arts had decreased in the years 2011-2014.
When the New Zealand Cause Report came out in 2017, it found a reduction in the number of people who make small donations, yet the benefactors who did give, were donating more frequently and more generously.
These days, many established funders are looking to make more impact and are aware that this comes out of investment in the long term. This paradigm shift has seen a move away from numerous small grants to more substantial investments.
So, by way of developing a younger generation of donors who may become art philanthropists of the future, The Arts Foundation also has a crowd-funding platform Boosted. It's a way to develop a culture of patronage, a way of bringing on new donors who can pledge small (or big) amounts to specific projects.
During the weekend MTG Hawke's Bay launched its first fundraising drive on Boosted. The project is a collaboration with Indelible Design Studio and an amazing creative team from Auckland led by Napier-born Rangituhia Hollis and Daniel Campbell-MacDonald.
Hollis and Campbell-MacDonald are working with students from Manurewa High School and alumni from Media Design School on a project they are calling Arotahi.
The project will bring to life histories and stories of Hawke's Bay (and a few from Auckland) as a huge scale animated projection on the front of Waiapu Cathedral for Hawke's Bay Arts Festival Nuit Blanche: Art after Dark on October 17 this year.
This project sits outside of the museum's council-funded programme and making it happen will take your help.
So if you'd like to join other generous arts patrons and make a donation to this project, large or small, check out our Boosted page Arotahi (boosted.org.nz). Whether you are in a position to make a donation or not, we hope you'll be able to turn out to see this extraordinary project in October.
• Toni MacKinnon is Art Curator at MTG