National’s Arts policy: we are the jelly; you are emerging … with some paintings by Attila Richard Lukacs by way of illustration

NATIONAL: 2008: Arts, Culture & Heritage Policy
by Christopher Finlayson, Arts, Culture and Heritage
15 July 2008



Was Weist der Aisel von Mord, Attila Richard Lukacs, 1988

National values arts, culture, and heritage. We value them equally. We value the one – or do we mean the ones?

We value the one(s) we’re supposed to value and not the other one(s), or what is called in progressive parlance: the other‘s ones.

To clarify: we value those arts, that culture and this heritage which are native to … us. Which is also not to say that we somehow devalue or disrespect those, that and this, not native, indigenous. and otherwise not conventionally deemed New-Zealand-made. It is to say that we don’t extend our support to it.

We, your incoming National government, have no place in supporting these arts, those cultures and heritages not native to New Zealand… native in the inclusive sense.

We believe there is an important role for government in supporting the arts at all levels. However, we are not going to tell you in this document how we define ‘level.’ As Michael said the other day about the English curriculum, ‘It’s like Dungeons and Dragons. If you get this number you advance to a higher level.’

Our approach is intelligent intervention rather than constant interference. Please do not infer anything élitist from the élitist sounding phrase, ‘intelligent intervention.’ In fact, it would be very Labourite and Politically Correct for you so to do. We mean ‘intelligent’ to mean, based on our intelligence.

Let Me Show You My Wonderful World, Attila Richard Lukacs, 1990

The National Party Research Unit has for some time been out in the field gathering arts, cultural and heritage intelligence at all levels.

Using this information our approach is to intervene and not interfere. We will come between the arts and artists, culture and culturati, heritage and inheritors (or, if you prefer, legatees) but not come in with some ideologically questionable agenda … some may have done so … some time.

Our policies focus on:

• Stimulating demand for the arts.
(we would like to titillate the nation’s taste buds)
• Supporting artists and arts organisations, not the bureaucracy.
(we believe that ‘organisation’ rhymes with ‘organic’)
• Ensuring funding agencies have cultures of service.
(the sector of highest employment in the developed world is the service sector; however, we hope to develop the service without employing a higher number of staff to serve.
(See our definition of culture, above: our culture is ours because we support our culture, and so on)
• Helping arts organisations operate on a sustainable, long-term basis.
(read ‘sustainable’ as ‘self-sustaining’ if you must)
• Promoting a culture of giving and community support.
(we support a culture of giving and ‘community support’ because the giving is what the culture does, not the government, just as ‘community support’ is a natural effect following on from strong and morally constituted communities in which our intelligence tells us we need not intervene)

Range of Motion, Attila Richard Lukacs, 1990


• Building opportunity for all.
(‘building’ is a participle and not a nominal piece of developed real-estate with bricks-and-mortar investment)
• Encouraging ambition.
(within the parameters of the portfolio, i.e. arts, culture and heritage. We imagine that ambitious heritage is all about wanting to make a come-back, possibly for those aspects of our national heritage which have been ignored and/or destroyed under three terms of the outgoing government. Ambition in culture should not be thought of as ideologically inflected. And the National Party is all about ambitious artists)
• Strengthening our communities.
(see above, ‘community support’ comes from strong communities; strong communities make extra support from government look like interfering, which rhymes with ‘social engineering’)

Krishna Stealing Milk, Attila Richard Lukacs, 1988


1. Supporting Arts Funding
(as a good idea)

• Maintain the current level of taxpayer funding for arts, culture, and heritage, and promote additional sources of funding through turbocharging community groups. This is a serious undertaking and not to be confused with an initiative to improve conditions for boy racers.
• Focus the Ministry of Culture and Heritage on its core responsibilities, like a magnifying glass, and reform the Arts Council to improve service delivery. See above for our belief that service need not go hand on arm with employing more staff.
• Improve the Creative Communities scheme and strengthen links between the Arts Council, local authorities, and iwi. Details of how this improvement and strengthening will be achieved is not contained in our intelligence, however take it as read that what we’ve got so far confirms that there is a need for it.

2. Encouraging Artists
(‘You go, boy!’ & ‘You go, girl!’)

• Maintain the PACE scheme and help establish a creative sector law centre. The PACE scheme is the most successful employment scheme we have in terms of numbers led into employment.

– Painters Lie with Fools Mask, Attila Richard Lukacs, 1988

However, our long-term thinking does not extend to considering the arts sector as the engine for the national economy. Simply put, too much is at stake to risk it on artists.
• Update the Copyright Act. Oppose resale royalty rights for art. We are and remain recidivists when it comes to remediation.

3. Maintaining Our Heritage
(see our definition of ‘our’ above: it is meant in an inclusive sense. Just like: President Elect Obama is an American, in the inclusive sense)

• Review the Historic Places Act, because it’s time we did.
• Support the National Portrait Gallery through the National Library. We as a Party are in favour of portraits and portraiture as a level in arts, culture and heritage. (See the discussion of ‘levels’ above.) We would like to see more portraits kept once they have been painted.
• Require Te Papa to improve the quality of service provided by the National Services Directorate. The latter has lately been dragging the chain.

4. Supporting the Sectors
(there are disciplines and then there are disciplines that need to be punished)

• Update the Film Commission Act and reform the commission. Maintain the Large Budget Screen Production Grant and the Screen Production Investment Fund. Peter Jackson has offered his own intelligence in intervening in the Film Commission. As has almost every successful New Zealand film maker.
• Retain the Music Commission and maintain NZ On Air funding for Kiwi music. Ensure Rockquest continues. We are about continuance. Music is not our thing.
• Support the reform of the Authors’ Fund. Too many authors spoil the fund.
• Require all state funding agencies to place a greater emphasis on emerging artists. Once they realise they are in the matrix they wake up and find themselves covered in something which looks and feels like jelly. Plus they have holes where they’ve so recently been plugged in. As a source of power, nothing beats emerging. As long as it is followed by emerging. As it long as it is followed by emerging. As long as it is followed by emerging. As long as it is followed by emerging. As long as it is followed by emerging. As it long as it is followed by emerging. As long as it is followed by emerging. As long as it is followed by emerging. As long as it is followed by emerging. As it long as it is followed by emerging. As long as it is followed by emerging. As long as it is followed by emerging. And another emerging. We are the jelly. We have always been there.

Allegory of Water, Attila Richard Lukacs, 1987