Auckland vs Wellington arts funding

Saturday’s Herald had two articles on the issue of arts funding for vs . I have some comments on comments in the articles:

The Auckland War Memorial Museum, he says, receives virtually no operational funding, while its capital counterpart, Te Papa, scores millions a year from the Government.

Aucklanders are asked to pay to visit their museum; Te Papa is free.

First of all, both have the same charging policy – free admission but donations encouraged.

Secondly one needs to ask how come Te Papa gets two to three times as many visitors as the Auckland War Memorial Museum, despite a population base one quarter of Auckland’s.

Wellington gets many of the national cultural facilities because we support them so strongly.  Now to be fair to Aucklanders, they are not all cultural philistines. The spread out nature of Auckland means that any facility is harder to get to for most residents than a facility in Wellington. Wellington CBD is just so trivially easy to get into, that it is easier to use the local facilities.

Auckland’s Philharmonia Orchestra often finds itself playing second fiddle to the Wellington-based New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, says APO board chairwoman Rosanne Meo. APO figures show it earns $2.56 million a year in government funding – barely a fifth of the NZSO’s $12.34 million.

The NZSO visits Auckland about six times yearly, playing about 12 concerts. The APO plays about 40 mainstage concerts a year in Auckland, she says.

Now reading this you might think those greedy Wellingtonians get to have the taxpayer pay for around 40 concerts a year in Wellington.  But as the NZSO tells us:

All its main symphonic programmes are presented in Auckland and Wellington, and as well as this, the orchestra visits some 30 New Zealand towns and cities annually.

Wellington get 12 main concerts – just the same as in Auckland. And 30 towns and cities get to hear the NZSO. Hence that is why it gets national funding. It is not a Wellington orchestra.

Auckland City Council arts, culture and recreation chairman Greg Moyle said Auckland is “desperately short of theatres. It seems only fair that some funding should come out of the central pot to help fund these sorts of infrastructure facilities that we would expect to find in a world-class city like Auckland.”

I would have thought that was something for Aucklanders to fund. As far as I know Bats Theatre, Circa Theatre, St James Downstage etc are all funded by sponsors, local Councils and lottery money.

Auckland City Mayor John Banks said there was “much inequity” between Wellington and Auckland.

It was unfair that Auckland City ratepayers alone funded Auckland’s art culture and the Regional Amenities Bill would hopefully fix that.

I agree that it has been unfair Auckland City rather than Auckland Region has had to fund many regional amenities.

As I said above, the geographic nature of Wellington means cultural amenities get far more visitors.  Stick Te Papa in Auckland and I predict it would get less visitors than in Wellington, despite four times as large a population and most international visitors.

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