State of the Arts


This report presents the findings from an online survey of those in the creative sector in Pōneke, between September-October 2021. There were 179 respondents from Pōneke and the results from those respondents are discussed below.


From the Pōneke State of the Arts Survey September – October 2021

key themes and findings

From the Pōneke State of the Arts Survey September – October 2021

Creative freelancers dominated the Pōneke sample: More respondents reported being a creative freelancer (52%) than any other role in the creative sector. This was followed by unpaid creative individuals (22%) or individuals working for a company (21%).

Performing and visual arts were strongly represented in Pōneke respondents: Pōneke respondents were active in many creative areas. Performing arts was the most prominent area reported (53%), followed by visual arts (35%) and music (29%).

Pōneke respondents have shifted towards a more pessimistic view about their financial position: Respondents rated their outlook on whether their creative work would support their financial position in the next 12 months (from 1 meaning very pessimistic to 6 meaning very optimistic). Compared to the June-July survey, pessimism increased from 59% to 65%, and optimism dropped from 39% to 33%, indicating a shift towards a more pessimistic view.

A majority of Pōneke respondents expected to either maintain or increase their current staff or contractor numbers, which is consistent with the previous survey’s findings: For respondents where this question was applicable, nearly half of respondents expected the number of staff or contractors to stay at the same level (42%), followed by some creatives who expected to increase (33%). Findings were consistent with the previous June-July survey results. 

Pōneke respondents’ views on achieving their creative goals shifted to become more pessimistic: Respondents rated their outlook on whether they would achieve their own or their organisations’ creative goals in the next 12 months (from 1 meaning very pessimistic to 6 meaning very optimistic). Compared to the June-July survey, pessimism increased from 30% to 48%, and optimism dropped from 67% to 47%, indicating a shift towards a pessimistic view.

Pōneke respondents’ perception of audience appetite was at moderate levels. This has remained at a similar level to the previous survey: With 34% reporting audience appetite being more than usual, 28% reporting that it had remained the same and 24% reporting that it was less. Overall, the average rating was 2.1 out of 3. This is slightly lower than the average rating of the June-July survey (2.3) however the difference is not statistically significant, meaning perceptions of audience appetite has remained moderate even with the increase in Alert Level restrictions.

The timeframe that Pōneke respondents expected to be impacted by the latest COVID-19 lockdowns was largely between four months to two years: Nearly all (90%) respondents reported being affected by the latest COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns. A majority of respondents indicated their creative work would be impacted by more than four months (70%), with 22% indicating four to six months, 15% indicating seven months to one year, and 21% indicating one to two years.

Emergency funding and mental health/wellbeing support were most important to Pōneke respondents: Creatives were asked a series of statements about what is important for the arts, culture, and creative sector as it faces ongoing disruption from COVID-19 (from 1 meaning strongly disagree to 4 meaning strongly agree). Statements that were most important to respondents where 95% or more either strongly agreed or agreed were: Emergency relief / resilience funding to support core operations during Alert Levels 4, 3, 2; Mental health and wellbeing support; and Business support, tools, and people to help adapt to the sector challenges of COVID.

Qualitative themes that emerged from respondent feedback included the following:

  • Suggestions for new strategies and approaches to support the creative sector
  • Adapting to the COVID environment
  • Acknowledgement of the independent sector, such as organisations working outside of large arts organisations and businesses, and freelancers in the sector.
  • A call for changes to funding priorities and processes
  • Structural issues in the creative sector