Toi Wairarapa Arts, Culture & Heritage funding pulled by MDC

FOCUS: Toi Wairarapa was established in 2005 to promote the arts, culture and heritage in the region.

Wairarapa Times Age: Friday October 9th 2015

Funding has been pulled from the organisation established to promote arts, culture and heritage in Wairarapa, in a move labelled as “disappointing and short-sighted” by its chairman.

Toi Wairarapa, which was founded in 2005 to implement the three district councils’ joint Arts, Culture and Heritage strategy, has lost its funding, with the Masterton and South Wairarapa district councils saying they think the money would be better spent in-house.

Chairman Greg Lang said the move was disappointing and short-sighted, especially in an environment of possible council amalgamation.

“The three councils have never worked together to fund the strategy. Even as a joint strategy they never really discussed it together, and they’ve always come up with different levels of funding and different requirements, and kept putting all these different requirements on us.

“It’s just a real mess and we tried to get them working together - we also wanted it funded like it was supposed to be funded.

Mr Lang, who is also a Carterton District councillor, said Toi Wairarapa had asked for funding as per the original strategy when it presented to a meeting of the combined councils several months ago.

This would have given the organisation sufficient funding for a 1.5 full-time equivalent staff member instead of the existing 0.5 FTE co-ordinator, he said.

The organisation had recently been told the Masterton and South Wairarapa District Councils were withdrawing funding and looking to implement the arts strategy in-house.

Carterton District Council funding for the organisation in its current guise was also likely to be withdrawn, Mr Lang said.

“Toi Wairarapa had been under-funded for years and if not for the commitment of the voluntary trustees, it would have ceased to function years ago, he said.

“There’s a real passion and a real interest there, and basically the council have been getting that expertise for a minimum investment and getting all this done, and they just don’t realise what happens at the ground level.”

Last year Toi Wairarapa received funding of about $5000 from South Wairarapa, $16,000 from Carterton and $41,000 from Masterton District councils.

The previous financial year Toi Wairarapa received a total of about $47,000 from the three councils.

Mr Lang said with 300 Wairarapa artists on its directory, Toi Wairarapa had made a big difference at the coal face.

“It’s basically giving opportunities to arts, culture and heritage. Arts, culture and heritage makes a difference - and of all the towns that need a difference made, it’s Masterton.”

Existing funding would allow Toi Wairarapa’s co-ordinator Corrinne Oliver to continue until the end of the year, Mr Lang said.

The voluntary trustees would be meeting next week to discuss the organisation’s future.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said the council signalled in June that it was likely to cease funding Toi Wairarapa.

“We feel we can get greater value and flexibility by taking the implementation in-house. We also acknowledge how difficult it has been for an outside service provider to implement our strategy.”

Masterton would continue to provide funding until the end of the year, Mrs Patterson said.

South Wairarapa District Council chief executive Paul Crimp said the council felt the funds would be better spent “in-house”, either by delivering services itself or through other direct funding options.

Mr Crimp and Mrs Patterson said they had no issues with Toi Wairarapa’s ability to deliver the strategy.

Carterton Mayor John Booth said providing funding to keep Toi Wairarapa in its existing form was “well beyond” the council’s means but that it was exploring other options to support its arts sector.

“We are keen to do something and because we have got such a strong arts community, I think it could be remiss of us not to support that community and not set something up in Carterton.”

- Wairarapa Times-Age Toi Wairarapa funding axed By Alisa Yong 7:23 AM Friday Oct 9, 2015

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