Strings Amore performing in the Chanel Arts Centre at Motueka on September 5. The concert was organised by the Motueka Music Group.
A question mark hangs over five of 10 concerts the Motueka Music Group planned for 2023 after Arts on Tour NZ missed out on funding from Creative New Zealand.
“To lose five, if we do, is a terrible blow for us,” said Motueka Music Group president Colin Hooker. “We’re very concerned about it.”
The popular New Zealand String Quartet was one of those five Arts on Tour NZ-supported concerts earmarked to perform at the Chanel Arts Centre in Motueka during 2023. Other potentially affected Arts on Tour NZ-supported concerts are Jackie Goes Prima Diva, folk-pop duo Looking For Alaska, Austen Found and Whirimako Black.
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“We are disappointed and disgusted,” Hooker said. “It is absolutely deplorable that an organisation that provides such wonderful entertainment to so many small communities should be denied the grant that they have received for so long in the past. There was no advance warning given; it just happened.”
Arts on Tour NZ has helped musicians, actors and poets tour to small and remote towns since 1995 and has been funded regularly by Creative NZ, which is a Crown entity. For 2020-22, Arts on Tour was granted $705,000 from Creative NZ. However, it was denied another three years of support in the latest round of funding decisions.
An artist residency run at the former Auckland home of New Zealand painter Colin McCahon was also dropped from the long-term funding scheme.
Arts on Tour artistic director Steve Thomas said it was “an incredible shock and really disappointing” the funding was not renewed.
Hooker said the Motueka Music Group had planned its 2023 programme based on the assumption the funding would be forthcoming,
“We would have finalised it [2023 programme] by now,” he said. “It’s left us floating so to speak.”
Motueka Music Group concerts generally drew about 65 people from Motueka and its surrounds, including Nelson. It was hoped that number would increase in 2023 now that Covid-19 infections had reduced and restrictions had been lifted, Hooker said.
As well as concerts supported by Arts on Tour NZ, Motueka Music Group also had performances organised via Chamber Music New Zealand – three of which were planned for 2023, along with two from independent artists.
Dating back to the 1970s, the Motueka Music Group got a home of its own in December 1991 when Peter Goodman offered the use of his family trust’s property, the former St Peter Chanel Church on High St.
In May 1992, following the building of a stage and the purchase of new seating, the group moved into what had become the Chanel Arts Centre. Further improvements followed.
The use of the centre helped Motueka Music Group keep the cost of entry tickets down with adults tickets at $25 and schoolchildren $5.
RYAN ANDERSON & JASON DORDAY/STUFF
It is more than 100 years since the birth of one of New Zealand’s most important artists, Colin McCahon. This video was first published in August 2019.
In late September, Creative New Zealand chief executive Stephen Wainwright said the longer-term support fund was contestable and funding agreements had fixed terms of three or six years.
“We acknowledge the good work Arts on Tour has done to provide New Zealanders in the regions with access to high-calibre arts experiences,’’ he said. “I appreciate it’s difficult for established organisations to not have funding renewed.”
Creative New Zealand was short of money after supporting many arts groups through the Covid-19 pandemic, Wainwright said.
Hooker invited people concerned about the issue to sign an online petition to Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni calling for the immediate reinstatement of Creative NZ ongoing funding to Arts on Tour NZ. As of 9am on Monday, 1639 people had signed nationally.