Dunedin may be the best city in New Zealand to be an
A pilot programme introduced 10 years ago to assist artists
into self-employment continues to be a success in Dunedin
after being abandoned in the rest of the country.
''Only Dunedin, still does it. The rest all fell over.
They've all ditched it, except for Dunedin and that's thanks
to the outcomes we've achieved,'' Artist Development Agency
manager Antony Deaker said recently.
''We average 80% outcomes. That's people going off the
benefit and staying off the benefit. They go off and live
happily ever after. Not many get rich, but they're all doing
what they love and it's sustainable.''
The Ministry of Social Development established Pathways to
Arts and Cultural Employment (Pace) in 2001.
''Back then, people were getting agitated by
work-for-the-dole, which led to a research project funded by
Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Employment Service,
which found that there was no bureaucratic box to tick to say
that you're an artist. So, you had to work in hospitality,''
Mr Deaker said.
''But, the employment services available didn't meet the
needs of artists, as most artists become self-employed. Pace
was technically considered a membership group within the
unemployment sector. It was a big step forward, because at
last you could get their real career aspirations
''Artists don't think about businesses, they look at careers.
But, there's been no knowledge about what an artist's career
looks like. How do I turn this juice into money?''Mr Deaker
is contracted until 2014 by Winz to mentor about 50 people a
''We developed a process in the Dunedin region to register
artists as 'arts and cultural workers' and we started
training programmes and seminars to help artists set
themselves up professionally.
''Now, our programme includes mentoring and planning and
access ways to start self-employment. We also demystify
taxes, income and money,'' he said.
''Typically, my clients are fashion designers, jewellers,
print-makers and artists. They need to be turning over around
$20,000 a year. Mostly, they've got tertiary training, but
not all of them do. We work with people from their mid-20s to
60-year-olds, who are returning to the workforce.
''Winz provides a start-up grant for self-employment of up to
$11,000. The majority of people I'm working with have applied
for that and the majority have got it.
''The relationship with Winz, by and large, is really good
and people coming through the system are very grateful for
the opportunity. They still have to be available for
full-time work, which is 30 hours a week, and they still have
to meet their obligations as job-seekers.''
However, not all artists have had positive Winz experiences.
Former Dunedin School of Art lecturer Ali Bramwell said she
was warned by Winz in October her benefit would be stopped if
she held exhibitions.
''My case manager told me I had to supply a signed and
witnessed affidavit that I would stop having exhibitions, or
I will not be eligible for unemployment benefit,'' she said.
''I left the meeting where she told me I had to stop
exhibiting, totally in tears. It was like a sucker punch.''
The Otago Daily Times understands the situation was caused by
''an overly-enthusiastic Winz staff member'' and Winz resiled
from that position, when contacted.
''There is no requirement for artists, or any other potential
client, to sign an affidavit to determine eligibility for the
unemployment benefit,'' a Winz spokesman said.
''Work and Income does cater for people who specifically want
to work in the arts and culture sector and will support any
willing jobseeker to apply for roles within this industry.
''When applying for, or receiving, any income-tested
assistance, it is necessary to declare all income that is
''This includes income received from sale of artworks.''