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Auckland arts and culture organisations fight mayor’s proposed budget cuts

by Vanessa Elley (she/her)

news writer

Auckland arts and culture organisations are encouraging submissions against Mayor Wayne Brown’s proposed council budget for 2023/2024.

The budget proposal, which includes a $41m cut in funding for regional services, regional contestable grants and local boards, has stirred up discussion and alarm in the arts and culture sphere.

Debate spoke to the co-director of Northart public art gallery, Jessica Pearless, to get her perspective on the proposed funding changes.

“It’s going to be hugely significant. I’ve been working in the arts and culture sector almost exclusively in Tāmaki Makaurau for 25 odd years now, and this is probably one of the most significant cuts that has been proposed,” she says.

The budgetary changes would affect a wide range of different council-funded services and events under the umbrella of “regional services”, and Pearless says it isn’t just arts and culture that people should be worried about.

“Arts and culture is one aspect of what’s sort of on the chopping block here. So we’re also talking about significant changes to organisations that run environmental initiatives, youth activity, and education as well as events.

Centrestage Theatre co-manager, Ross McKellar, is similarly concerned about the proposed budget.

“Most theatres around the country are probably one or two bad shows away from going under. That’s always been the nature of theatre and theatre companies. So to have some sort of baseline surety and security from the council is really important to us.”

His call to action is clear:

“The most important thing that people can do right now is go online, on the Auckland Council website, and put in your thoughts around the funding cuts,” he says. “It’s quite a simple survey to fill out, fill that out, have your say. And hopefully if enough people do, we may be listened to.”

Pearless also emphasised the importance of public feedback.

“Encourage people to fill in the survey, because that’s the only way that they’re really going to take it seriously is if they get significant feedback, and Wayne Brown has said the same thing.”

The 2023/2024 budget proposal is under consultation until 11pm on March 28th, and you can make a submission on the Auckland Council website.


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