Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dollars and sense

On Friday CNZ sent us a summary budget for New Zealand’s participation at Venice. It was a week earlier than expected and it certainly seems to cover all the bases.

First the Income: As projected it comes in at around $NZ1.1 million including CNZ’s contribution of $700,000 and an astonishing $268,500 already raised by Jenny Gibbs and Dale Mace. This fund raising was done at a budgeted expense of $20,000 (that’s $1 spent for every $13.50 raised) – a remarkable achievement. It should be shouted from the roof tops, particularly in an environment where the new government and Minister of the Arts are so hot on philanthropy. In addition to these contributions to income, the dealer galleries associated with the two artists have put in $60,000 toward the production of two catalogues. There is also a contribution of $100,000 from a mysterious “Associate Partner.” We’re guessing this is New Zealand Trade and Enterprise paying for the NZ “Reading Room” at Judy Millar’s venue and the "entertainment".

The costs: Fees are recorded as $144,100. This includes the two artists, curators and the Technical Production Manager. We’ve heard the artists received $10,000 each as a fee and assume the curators (all three of them) got less, so Bruce Edgar, Technical Production Manager probably takes the thick end. Production costs for the artists are budgeted at $170,600 along with $40,000 for installation.

Other costs: Renting the two venues for the duration of the Biennale is budgeted at $256,566.00; Getting everyone there, accommodated and fed (you can read the full list of those being paid for here) $236,760. The rest is rats, mice and contingencies.

Venice is a long way away and nobody would ever think participation would be cheap. CNZ has identified this Biennale as the key opportunity to present NZ artists in an international context with the opportunity to be seen by curators, collectors and institutional directors.

The oddities to us are the reading room (who the hell has time to read during the Venice Biennale?), parties with imported NZ entertainment (isn’t it time to cut back on the party thing, given the economic climate, and simply focus on the work?) and Kapa Haka support (did we learn nothing from the 2001 debacle?).

You can see the full budget here.