Thursday, March 05, 2009
HAMISH KEITH WRITES TO THE NZ HERALD
Published in NZ Herald, March 5, 2009
Brian Rudman evoking the Federal Arts Project in Roosevelt’s New Deal is not as far fetched as it might seem.
Figures just released by the Ministry of Arts Culture and Heritage show 126,531 New Zealanders in paid cultural employment – some 7% of everyone employed.
Given that the statistical net is cast wide not all of those workers are at risk but the most creative of them are and they seem no less worthy of attention than visiting cyclists.
To reach some of them is difficult, but one group, writers, is already in the government’s financial sights. The Public Lending Right pays writers a small annual sum for the use of their books in the nation’s libraries.
There are 1647 writers registered in that scheme which currently costs $2million a year – just 42 authors short of the total in the Ministry’s figures. Double that sum and make a one off mid year bonus payment and at least one large chunk of the nation’s creative imagination might make it through the recession. The Attorney General might like to talk that over with the Minister of the Arts while he’s shaving.