Philanthropist hopes someone will take over project for rural students.

The handbrake is set to be pulled on the Real Art Roadshow which has visited schools around the country for 10 years - unless someone new grabs the wheel.

Artist and philanthropist Fiona Campbell, 45, is auctioning off the roadshow collection - estimated to be worth up to $2.5 million - in November, but hopes a buyer will take over the mobile gallery's operation.

"It would be so good to think that this project has an ongoing legacy."

Her roving art collection has been credited for giving a close look at a wide range of New Zealand contemporary art to students who might otherwise not have had the chance. .


But after 10 years, more than 700 schools and 300,000 visitors, Ms Campbell said it was her time to step down from the project on wheels.

The Wanaka-based mother-of-two had only ever planned to devote a decade to the charitable art project.

"I've done my bit and I'm quite happy to hand it over now. It's a fabulous project, but having a definite end date gives you the energy to do a proper job."

When the Real Art Roadshow finishes its final run in October, the 137 pieces, including work by Dick Frizzell, Ralph Hotere and Sarah Munro as well as a number of emerging artists, will be sold off at Art + Object auction house.

Director of art Ben Plumbly estimated the whole collection could go for between $1.5 million-$2.5 million.

He described it as a sophisticated collection of artwork that represented a good cross-section of male and female artists in a wide range of mediums.

"It's a very visual, very strong collection unlike any other."

He said when the idea of a roving art gallery was first mooted, people were initially a little incredulous that it could be pulled off.

"But she's done it and she's done it successfully ... taking art to the margins."

The initial vision behind the Real Art Roadshow was to take art to children who lived in areas bereft of art galleries.

Ms Campbell and her ex-husband Mark Ritcher financed the roadshow from profits of TradeMe shares.

"We were thinking, well what happens now when life is not about having a job to put food on the table? How do you craft a life that is meaningful after you get wealthy?"

Having always been passionate about the arts, Ms Campbell thought it was a pity that many students in smaller centres only had access to art through their text books.

And so she got to thinking about how to take art to the students.

With a little bit of inspiration from the National Science Roadshow truck, the idea behind the Real Art Roadshow was born.

They formed the Real Art Charitable Trust and with help from other members of the art world, they got the project rolling.

Over a year they bought pieces for the collection, which was split into two that took turns on the road in a purpose built truck and trailer unit.

The truck's trailer is 3m wide, but when expanded stretches out to 9.5m.

It also has two bedrooms above the gallery space, as well as a kitchen and washing facilities.

Arts raise voice for funding

Arts groups are launching a campaign to highlight why they believe more money - and a new funding model - is needed, after failing to see much in the Budget for them.

The NZ Symphony Orchestra, the Royal NZ Ballet and Te Matatini, the national kapa haka organisation, received a Budget boost and will share $11.6 million of new operating funding during the next four years. Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says it equals a $2.9 million rise a year for the arts.

But those working in the arts say the wider community has been ignored. Actors' union Equity said the three were already crown-funded and, unlike others, will not be hit by a predicted fall in funds from the Lottery Grants Board.

Creative NZ, the crown arts funder and arts development agency, gets 60 to 70 per cent of its revenue from the board, but the amount fluctuates depending on how many Kiwis play Lotto. Fewer of us have been playing, so there is less money to go round.

In April, Creative NZ warned its $44 million investment in the arts in the 2015/16 financial year could fall to $38 million in 2016/17. It told the sector to brace for a 10 per cent funding cut. Arts organisations have warned funding cuts could lead to job losses, higher ticket prices, fewer performances and less locally made work.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage gives Creative NZ $15.69 million annually, but its contribution has not risen in five years. Private donations account for about $2.4 million of Creative NZ's revenue.

Equity president Jennifer Ward-Lealand said the orchestra, ballet and Te Matatini did wonderful work and Equity had no interest in being pitted against other arts organisations over funding. It wanted to see the whole pie grow so the industry doesn't have to "fight over scraps".

Artists and art groups are planning a campaign to improve understanding of the role the arts play in Kiwi life and lobby for an alternative funding model less dependent on gambling. Equity wants those interested in joining the campaign to contact it.

It says investment in the arts provides a great return to the economy and the arts are a life-blood of our community.

"Our stories, our history, our culture are preserved and celebrated through the arts," says Ms Ward-Lealand.

"Whilst any funding increase in the sector is step in the right direction, a rich arts scene requires more than a handful of well-funded organisations. If the Government recognises the importance of the arts, as Maggie Barry has said they do, they haven't shown it."

Ms Barry said she "made no apologies" for allocating most of the new Budget money to the NZSO, Royal NZ Ballet and Te Matatini. She said they did not benefit from lottery grants and had received no extra funding since 2009.

Ms Barry also said Creative NZ had "jumped the gun" by predicting a funding fall, and the Government expected a small rise in Creative NZ funds.