The Government will bail out struggling artists, musicians and venues with a $175 million package that aims to save thousands of jobs in the "decimated" industry.

The arts and creative sector contributes nearly $11 billion a year to NZ's gross domestic product and employs 90,000 people.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the industry had been "decimated" by Covid-19.

"Modelling based on Treasury forecasts suggests that without government intervention, the cultural sector will be hit roughly twice as hard as the rest of the economy, and 11,000 jobs could be lost within a 12-month period," said Ardern, who is also the Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister.


"We know many of our creatives get income from multiple sources and it is an ongoing challenge to piece together the gigs and commissions to earn a livelihood."

Speaking in Hawke's Bay just after midday, Ardern said the arts sector will take time to rebuild, starting with today's new 100-person limit on social gatherings.

Focus: Together Again concert to bring back live entertainment at the Tuning Fork in Auckland during Alert Level 2. Video / Dean Purcell

Level 1 will see events taking place without restrictions on numbers, and Ardern said today's announcement was about keeping the sector afloat in the meantime.

She said she would be "out and about" this long holiday weekend, and may take in a Nadia Reid show.

The show would have no more than 100 people in attendance, in accordance with alert level 2 rules.

She said alert level restrictions were likely to be eased as the country continued to successfully contain Covid-19.

The Government will have announcements on commercial rents "very very soon", she said.

She encouraged people to visit local businesses to kick-start the economy.


Asked about National calling itself the party for small businesses, Ardern said the Government was helping small businesses with a raft of measures including the wage subsidy.

"It's election mode," Ardern said about National's claims.

"It's not just about support from Government. It's also about support from Kiwis. Please go out and support your businesses and it will make all the difference."

Ardern said there were "some issues" with the police trial of armed response vehicles, and she has shared her view with Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. Police are evaluating the trial and haven't made any decisions.

Ardern said the Government was staying in contact with local authorities to help farmers during the drought.

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Four new funds and a jobseeker programme for the creative sector are to be set up to help the industry recover.

A total of $7.9m will go towards careers support for creative jobseekers while the four funds target specific areas of the industry.

Those areas are:

• A $16.5m New Zealand music recovery fund for the contemporary popular music industry.

• $70m over three years for a creative arts recovery and employment fund

• $60m over three years for a cultural innovation fund


• $20m for a cultural capability fund

Ardern said the package would protect cultural sector jobs and create new employment opportunities, build skills, knowledge and resilience, protect Māori knowledge and art forms, and continue to provide inspiration for all New Zealanders.

PM Jacinda Ardern takes a turn as a DJ. Photo / File
PM Jacinda Ardern takes a turn as a DJ. Photo / File

"A healthy cultural sector has many positive flow-on effects for other important parts of our economy, such as technical production, hospitality, venues and domestic tourism."

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Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Grant Robertson said the revival of art after the Canterbury earthquakes showed how important they were in a crisis.

The first wave of funding becomes available from July 2020.

Danica Bryant opens for Elton John at the Mission Concert in Napier in February. The industry has since been decimated by a lack of live shows. Photo / Paul Taylor
Danica Bryant opens for Elton John at the Mission Concert in Napier in February. The industry has since been decimated by a lack of live shows. Photo / Paul Taylor

The full details:

• $7.9m for Careers Support for Creative Jobseekers – a programme that will be rolled out to support artists and creatives back into sustainable work and builds on the former Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment (PACE) programme. The goal is to help up to 2000 people over four years.


• $70m over three years for a Creative Arts Recovery and Employment Fund to support the rebuild of the creative industries by commissioning and supporting creative projects at a national and local level. The fund will be managed to create employment, mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities, ensure vital skills, talent and creative infrastructure is not lost, and maintain public access to the arts.

• $60m over three years for a Cultural Innovation Fund – a contestable fund to support new ways of operating, cross-sector partnerships, and create new ways to add value to the economy, particularly through digital exports. This will include supporting innovative approaches to Māori art forms and traditional knowledge.

• $20m for a Cultural Capability Fund to focus on immediate needs in response to Covid-19, such as legal services, online delivery and audience development.

• $16.5m for a New Zealand Music Recovery Fund specifically directed towards the contemporary popular music industry. This includes $7.1m to boost NZ on Air's New Music programmes; $5m for a Live Music Touring Fund to support NZ acts on the domestic circuit as alert levels permit; $3m immediate support for music venues to have safe environments for audiences, workers and artists, to be administered by the NZ Music Commission; and $1.4m to help musicians recoup lost income via Outward Sounds and NZ Music Month. The support for new contemporary music and live music is expected to sustain a combined 2900 jobs over two years, produce 455 new song releases and 150 live music tours throughout New Zealand.