Act MP denigrates New Zealand’s highly valuable creative industries

  • Judith Tizard
Arts, Culture and Heritage

Act MP Muriel Newman’s 19th Century view of what real work is must ring hollow with the young, talented and able New Zealanders who have spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars getting training and education in creative areas, says Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Judith Tizard.

This month, Judith Tizard and Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey launched the new Work and Income initiative PACE - Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment. PACE enables those seeking careers in the creative industries to register “art” as their first career choice, and receive career-specific assistance from Work and Income New Zealand case managers.

“Worldwide, the creative sector is one of the fastest growth industries. A mapping exercise currently being undertaken by NZIER for Industry New Zealand will give us the first comprehensive picture of the value of the sector to our economy.

“In the meantime we know that around 50,000 New Zealanders are employed in cultural occupations – not including the 70,000-odd non-cultural workers such as accountants and drivers who benefit from job creation in the cultural industries.

“We also know that cultural industries, a subset of the whole sector being surveyed by NZIER, contribute 2.8% to our GDP. Tourism, by way of contrast, contributes only slightly more at 4.9% of GDP. Muriel Newman is suggesting that young people who are unemployed should not aspire to careers in this highly valuable sector,” says Judith Tizard.

“It astounds me that somebody who calls herself an ‘employment spokesman’ cannot see the tangible benefits of giving Work and Income New Zealand the resources to support emerging creative talent. The arts community can take from Muriel Newman’s reaction that she is certainly not a supporter of New Zealand’s creative industries.

“She is also denigrating the hard work of Work and Income case managers by wilfully misunderstanding how PACE is administered.”

PACE is focused on getting people into jobs. There are clear criteria for Case Managers to use to determine whether PACE is appropriate for clients and to assess their likely future job and self-managed career prospects in the cultural sector. The criteria are attached below.
“Muriel Newman is obsessed with the question ‘what is art?’ Thankfully for the sake of job seekers, PACE focuses on the cultural worker’s ability to progress their career, rather than attempting to assess the quality of the practitioner’s work.

“So instead of rushing case managers through art history degrees, Work and Income is working hard to build up relationships with arts organisations in the regions to improve communication about professional development courses and job opportunities.”

Judith Tizard says several such successful regional relationships provided the basis and inspiration for PACE. These initiatives in Dunedin, Nelson, Auckland and Christchurch have focused on forming close relationships with local arts organisations. Work and Income Southern Region recently signed a formal contract for services with the Higher Trust, a Dunedin arts advocacy organisation.

As is usual with all new programmes, PACE will be evaluated in three months, and again at six months. Stable employment outcomes will be an important factor considered in the evaluation.

“It will take a lot longer than three months for Muriel Newman to emerge from her 19th Century thinking on what constitutes real work,” says Judith Tizard.

When registering a client Case Managers should consider whether the client:
·has a level of training
·has a history of practice related to their chosen career
·has certification from an NZQA approved course or tertiary institution related to their chosen arts and cultural career (not essential)
·is able to present a portfolio of work
·can produce a CV that details a verifiable history of work experience
The client should also be able to demonstrate their commitment to pursuing a job choice in the arts/cultural industry by:
·communicating a clear vision of their work and their creative future
·actively seeking work and income opportunities related to their creative skills
·considering and pursuing job referrals appropriate to their chosen job choice
·actively seeking opportunities to present the results of their work for external and public display
·actively seeking and undertaking training to advance their personal and professional development

The aim of a needs assessment is to identify likely career and employment opportunities for arts and cultural job seekers and the development of the arts/cultural job seekers’ capacity for professional work. Arts and cultural job seekers include all sectors of creative work from music to design, visual arts to literature, dance and theatre.