It’s not often that someone makes a fuss when they miss out on funding from Creative NZ (a public one anyway) so the Depot’s response is unusual. It has put out a media release expressing ‘dismay’ that CNZ has declined to fund a new round of its video interviews with cultural ‘icons’. The interviews are available free online and the production quality is excellent. We’ve watched a few of them over the year and while the content is variable some is outstanding. We were particularly impressed by Rodney Wilson’s interview of gallerist and auction guy Peter Webb.
So why wouldn’t CNZ fund a programme like this?
A glance at the complete list of interviews might give you a clue to the possible reasoning behind CNZ’s “perplexing decision.” At a rough count, of the 41 interviews online so far, 33 of them are of white men. People of Maori or Pacific descent just don’t get a look in (which is odd as virtually all the interviewees live in Auckland). As far as the visual artists go, all but one are painters and six of the eight figurative, they include Nigel Brown, Dean Buchanan, Stanley Palmer, Alan Pearson and Claudia Pond-Eyely.
Creative NZ has made no secret that it is changing its focus and that recognising diversity is one of its fundamental values. The Depot’s selection has many virtues, but diversity is not one of them. Maybe the 20 planned interviews put up for funding were intended shake up the white-guy thing but judging from what has been done so far you can see why the Depot request could easily fail a CNZ funding tick.
A RESPONSE FROM THE DEPOT: ".... Our goal is to secure funding that enables us to carry out as many interviews as our community recording studio will accommodate and as our time to edit and download will allow. We feel perhaps that seeking sponsorship could be the best avenue for this and for ensuring that the great and rich diversity of cultures and disciplines, and gender balance, are represented.
The Depot has for fifteen years has honoured and sought to actively represent its philosophy, an aspect of which is inclusiveness, from which the Cultural Icons series originated."
You can read the full response here on OTN Stuff