Creative NZ support for propaganda adds up to $222,000 that won’t go to artists

The Taxpayers’ Union has joined Point of Order in raising questions about Creative NZ’s funding of articles on The Spinoff to pressure the Government “to remove direct democracy from local government wards”.

For good measure, it has inquired into the cost of this funding and tells us $222,000 in grants has gone the way of The Spinoff since 2016.

As Point of Order reported at the weekend, one Creative NZ-sponsored article on The Spinoff has the headline, ‘Why Nanaia Mahuta is right to repeal racist Māori wards legislation’.

A follow up is titled, ‘Want to petition council to veto your local Māori ward? Bad news – you can!’.

The Taxpayers Union dipped into The Spinoff’s files and found other opinion pieces in this series which profile Ihumātao protestors, make commentary on Twitter controversies, and praise Hon Nanaia Mahuta’s appointment as Foreign Minister.

Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Many New Zealanders would be appalled to know their hard-earned taxes are being used to promote political stances they disagree with. When government agencies engage in propaganda they undermine the neutrality of the public sector and the fairness of democracy.”   

search of Creative NZ’s website reveals $222,000 given in grants to The Spinoff since 2016.  

“It seems Creative NZ is keen on funding left-wing propaganda, but we doubt they’d give money for us to provide the counterargument. Regardless, political opinion pieces do not support the creative sector. Creative NZ should stick to its knitting or shut down and return its funds to the taxpayer.”   

A few weeks ago the Taxpayers’ Union revealed  how Creative NZ’s COVID-19 response grants have dished out taxpayer money to ‘compositions inspired by emotions felt during the Covid-19 lockdown, ‘an indigenised hypno-soundscape’, ‘a novel about male affection in hypermasculine spaces’, and other bizarre projects.”

Its press statement today concludes:

Of course some art will be edgy or political. But we’re yet to see Creative NZ fund a single project that doesn’t fit their politically-correct, Wellington-centric, left-wing world view. That is not good enough

Creativity blossoms in the shadow of the virus (with seed money from taxpayers who may not be aware of their generosity)

We have acknowledged on previous occasions that the Point of Order Trough Monitor was not calibrated to pick up every example of dubiously spent public money.

But when our monitor misses examples of eyebrow-raising grants, investments, loans and what-have-you, other monitors and watchdogs are on the job.  The Taxpayers’ Union for example.

The other day it drew attention to Creative NZ’s track record for funding some pretty odd art projects.

The Taxpayers’ Union has focused on the value of the Arts Continuity Grant, which it describes as a COVID-19 response fund which has so far paid out $16 million in grants to a variety of questionable short-term arts projects.

Many of the descriptions of the projects funded under this programme are described as “frankly, incomprehensible” and:

“It’s hard to see how bureaucrats in Creative NZ can make an objective judgment on which projects are worthy of funding, and which aren’t.

“The resulting handouts speak for themselves. Creative NZ is fighting COVID-19 by spending taxpayer money on plays about menstrual cycles, Māori ‘healing theatre’, and ‘Indigenised Hypno-soundscapes’. That’s madness and it reflects terribly on the Minister of Arts Culture and Heritage – who happens to be Jacinda Ardern.

“These grants are massively unfair to taxpayers, with the benefits skewed toward politically-connected Wellington weirdos. Handouts for fringe interest groups mean less money is available for tax relief that would reward productive work.”

Point of Order visited the Creative NZ website and learned that this continuity fund

“ … is offered to support a short-term arts project, or the stage of a project, that can be delivered within a changed and evolving environment as a result of COVID-19. Projects can include the creation and/or presentation of new work. Existing projects submitted to our suspended funds can be reframed and resubmitted. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with weekly decision-making.”

Sums up to $50,000 have been on offer. Continue reading “Creativity blossoms in the shadow of the virus (with seed money from taxpayers who may not be aware of their generosity)”