Thursday, April 17, 2008


Yesterday we received an extremely formal letter from Creative New Zealand responding to our request of 16 February. We’d asked was on the Visual Arts Assessment Committee for the February round of visual arts grants. If you are still interested they were:
Ali Bramwell
Heather Galbraith
Haruhiko Sameshima
Linder Tyler
Ruth Watson
The reason CNZ has sat on this reply for 60 days is that they did not want any artist to know who these people were before their decisions were made. As CNZ staff explained to us last year, knowing this sort of thing could give artists the opportunity to lobby (read annoy) Committee members and perhaps even effect their decisions. While CNZ is itself a lobby organisation, it doesn’t believe the rest of us should share the privilege. Forget for the moment that lobbying is one of the central principles of the democratic process – haven’t these people heard of select committees? Incidentally, anyone we have spoken to who has been on one of these panels tells us that conversations with artists who have missed out are far more ‘annoying’ after the announcements than during any lobbying period.
So far every question we have asked CNZ has been refused or answers delayed beyond their use-by date. It's probably time CNZ became part of a more service-oriented organisation, with greater commitment to transparency and public accountability. Perhaps the Ministry of Culture would be the right place, where scale and breadth break down silos and stone-walling. At the moment they are just hiding in full-view.