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Blue Oyster Contemporary Art Space director Grace Ryder said the grant was from Creative New Zealand's Toi Uru Kahikatea programme and would be used to pay artists more, provide better resources, and provide better workshops and better professional development for the gallery's staff, trustees and volunteers over the next three years.
"Rather than create more events, it will help us better substantiate and better resource the events that we are already running.
"What we're really, really, really happy to see is that this shows us the results of the Wellness Budget.
"It's really nice to see that Creative New Zealand are really supporting better resourcing of the practices that are already existing in Aotearoa, rather than asking people to produce more, because we already do produce a lot.
"This will help us better maintain what we already do."
Ms Ryder said the role of the gallery, in Dowling St, was to support the development of local and national emerging artists, writers, curators and arts practitioners, and allow them to work free from commercial restraints in an innovative and experimental environment.
"It's hoped this funding will help bring more experimental and challenging artwork to the community - artworks that challenge people's critical thinking, perspectives and their concept of what they think art might be or be able to do."
Other southern arts organisations to receive funding from Creative New Zealand's Investment programmes over the next three years are the Arts Festival Dunedin ($137,000), the Dunedin Public Art Gallery ($222,000), the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra ($1,020,000), Otago University Press ($99,500) and the Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust ($122,300).
They were among 80 organisations across New Zealand to receive grants.
A Creative New Zealand spokeswoman said because of the number of high-quality proposals received this year, it was decided to draw from financial reserves (largely reserves from windfall lottery funding) to create an arts investment portfolio fit for the future needs of the arts in New Zealand.
It included increasing access to the arts and contributing to fairer remuneration for arts practitioners.
"This represents an increase of approximately $27million into the arts sector over the next 6 years," the spokeswoman said.