$245k for arts, culture strategy; branding link

The Dunedin City Council has approved $245,000 of funding for its new arts and culture strategy, and has appointed Cr Aaron Hawkins to lead the body tasked with its implementation.

The spending was approved yesterday at the final day of long-term plan consideration.

The strategy itself, called Ara Toi Otepoti, was approved last month after public consultation.

The funding comprises $100,000 for community arts development, $60,000 for creative-sector economic development, $50,000 for establishing an Urban Dream Brokerage franchise, $25,000 for advancing public art objectives and $10,000 for creative sector projects in Enterprise Dunedin.

It will involve hiring new council staff, with roles yet to be confirmed, but one is likely to be based in Enterprise Dunedin to connect the arts strategy with city branding.

Cr Hawkins, who put forward the motion for the spending, said once implemented the strategy had huge potential to benefit the city.

As well as its intangible benefits to society, art could provide economic advantage and opportunity.

It was also low carbon and much safer than other industries.

Lack of employment was an issue in Dunedin, Cr Hawkins said.

The strategy would allow people in entry-level jobs to work in the arts sector, which freed up their old jobs for others.

Cr Lee Vandervis opposed the spending, saying the council could not afford to take on more staff and should run new projects from existing budgets.

However, Cr Vandervis proposed the motion for Cr Hawkins to be chairman of the Creative Dunedin Partnership, which is charged with implementing the plan.

The spending had strong support around the table, although Cr Chris Staynes suggested the proposed amount was too high.

Cr Hilary Calvert said funding the strategy was the only way to see if its aims could be realised.

Cr David Benson-Pope said he was heartened to hear the comments from other councillors, as the arts were very important to Dunedin.

''There are Philistines round the table but there are fewer than there used to be,'' he said.

The council also agreed to request a report for inclusion in the 2016-17 annual plan discussions on future funding levels for the strategy.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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