Auckland Council is currently consulting on its Emergency Budget which makes significant cuts that will have direct ramifications on arts and culture in Tāmaki Makaurau. The only way to stop the cuts is to have your say.
As we celebrate Aotearoa’s COVID free status and our move to Level One the repercussions of the global pandemic continue to play out. Here in Tāmaki Makaurau, we feel it as Auckland Council moves to adopt its Emergency Budget for the current financial year.
The impact of COVID-19 on Auckland Council’s revenue is huge, and as a result Council need to make significant cuts across all areas of their expenditure. They will also be deciding whether to continue with their proposed 3.5% rates rise, or only increase rates by 2.5% – which would further impact their expenditure and this budget.
These budget decisions will have direct ramifications on how arts and culture will be presented, performed and experienced in the coming year.
The Impacts of the Emergency Budget
Auckland Council are currently asking for feedback on both the budget as a whole and how much rates should rise.
The proposed Emergency budget means huge cuts to services across the board, including cuts to community programming, arts, and grants. This will significantly impact the local arts community, including events like the Auckland Pride Festival. If these cuts were to go ahead, especially under the smaller 2.5% rates increase, reduced grant funding would impact the ability to deliver free events for all of our rainbow communities, events like the March and Party.
It could also mean that Proud Centres aren’t able to support the production of more than 80 events, as they did in 2020. Events like the COVEN Supreme Ball, Queen of the South, Queer Scenes, and many other sports, arts and community events across Auckland allowed our rainbow communities to come together and celebrate queerness. Initiatives like these provide significant support for our rainbow communities, by increasing visibility, providing financial support for under-resourced rainbow communities, and by creating a strong, diverse programme within the Auckland Pride Festival.
It’s important our communities has a say on this budget, as these decisions affect all of us.
As we well know, silence and inaction gets you nothing. That’s why we’re asking all of our queer communities to submit on the proposed Emergency Budget and make sure queer voices are heard.
If you support the arts in Auckland and the Auckland Pride Festival, but don’t quite know how to say it, here are some responses that align with our positions above. These may be adapted as needed.
Question One asks what level of rate rises you support.
An example response could be:
“I support a 3.5% rise so that our communities don’t suffer from further cuts to services. This is only a material increase of about $20 a year (compared with 2.5%) which will impact me less than if our community programmes were cut back and centres closed.
A budget under a 2.5% rates rise doesn’t benefit our city and will hinder our recovery from the impacts of Covid-19.”
Question two and three asks about two other initiatives that don’t impact the budget, but impact ratepayers and provides short term relief, as well as relief for the accommodation industry.
You can simply answer “I don’t know” to either of these, or you could read more about them to submit.
Question four asks for other feedback around areas that are important to you.
Here you could advocate for Auckland Council to reduce cuts to funding of community centres, arts, and grants. An example response could be:
“Please reduce the cuts to the community centres, arts, and grants.
Our arts and creative sectors are also important to a response to Covid-19 that looks after the wellbeing of Aucklanders, and invests in the future of artists to ensure a sustainable future for the arts in Auckland. They play a role in our cultural wellbeing and will help to support our recovery.
Further, it is community organisations that benefit the most from grant funding. Organisations who work at a grassroots level to further community benefits and wellbeing. These organisations are already struggling because of Covid-19, and shouldn’t have support cut from council when they could significantly aid in the response to Covid-19 through community investment.
Lastly, Initiatives like Auckland Council’s Proud Centres have provided our community with vital support to put on events and activations across Auckland to celebrate our diverse rainbow identities and educate the wider community. This support has been vital for education, visibility, and celebrating the diversity of Tāmaki Makaurau. Cutting programmes such as these only exacerbate inequities our communities face, especially after Covid-19.”
The arts world and rainbow communities are filled with passionate and articulate individuals and organisations. Our communities add colour and expression to life in Tāmaki Makaurau, and help increase the discussions and visibility of our Rainbow whānau. This is an important opportunity to stand up for the value the arts bring to our communities – now more than ever.”
If you want to continue to see a fabulous, community-centred Auckland Pride Festival then we encourage you to give your feedback before June 19! You can read the proposed budget document and have your say here.
For more information about these cuts, our Chair, Cissy Rock, is hosting a webinar as part of her other mahi on June 18th to further discuss the Emergency budget and Council’s response. Find more info here
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