Since 2000, the Arts Foundation has donated over $5,620,000 to 188 artists and organisations. However, most Arts Foundation Award recipients say that while receiving financial support is critical to grow the arts in New Zealand, it is the honour of receiving an award that means the most to them.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that recipients are selected by their peers, independent from the Foundations' Trustees and Management. The second is that the mana of each award grows as more recipients are awarded. Arts Foundation awards are kept alive through recipient participation in award ceremonies and through national touring events, in our newsletter Applause and on this website.

On 29 November, 2011, the Arts Foundation launched the New Zealand Arts Awards as New Zealand's national celebration of the arts. At the first ceremony the Foundation donated $360,000 to artists. Ten of New Zealand's finest artists received awards for excellence including five $50,000 Laureate Awards, three $25,000 New Generation Awards, the $25,000 Marti Friedlander Photographic Award and the inaugural $10,000 Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award. The New Zealand Arts Awards are now established as an annual event.

The Foundation has established three career stages awards. The New Generation Award is for artists in the early stage of their career. The Laureate Award is for artists working at or near their peak, but have plenty more creative juices in the tank. The Icon Award is the Foundation's highest honour and is given to artists with a significant body of work and a lifetime of achievement.

In partnership with the late Marti Friedlander and her husband Gerrard, the Foundation established an award for photographers, the Marti Friedlander Photographic Award. With the Harriet Friedlander Scholarship Trust, we have established a residency in New York, the Harriet Friedlander Residency. The Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award for children's book illustrators has been established following a donation from Ann Mallinson.

From time to time the Governors of the Foundation honour an institution or individual that has contributed to the arts and the Foundation honours a patron of the arts every year.

Other awards and programmes to be established in partnership are in development. As the Foundation's endowment grows we will establish more ways to support artists.

Money donated by Patrons of the Arts Foundation goes directly to artists at the New Zealand Arts Awards. You are welcome to join this list of wonderful people today. You can make a one off donation, become a member on an annual subscription, or leave a legacy. You can work in partnership with us to create a fund for a specific purpose, such as an award for one particular art-form.

The Selection Process

Being selected for an Arts Foundation Award is a remarkable thing. Remarkable, because artists have absolutely no idea they are being considered until they get a magic call offering them an award.

Arts Foundation selection processes are based on trust. Our Trustees and Governors appoint panels, or individuals from the arts community, to select recipients for awards under pre-determined criteria. The selectors must be independent from the Foundation, or its funders, and there must be a reasonable turn-over of selection panel membership from year to year. Through appointing volunteer arts experts to select recipients for us, we trust the arts community to select its own champions.

Selection panels are instructed to select artists who have demonstrated the highest standards in their practice and are committed to a career in the arts. We don't ask artists to provide us with reports on how they will apply their financial award, or require them to do anything specific. We trust that, as dedicated artists, they will apply their award in a manner that enables them to grow their career.

Our selection process has enabled us to invest in some of New Zealand's finest artists through Laureate, New Generation and other awards produced in partnership. But this is just a start. As our Endowment Fund grows, we will be able to provide more awards for artists. You can help us create new awards for the arts by donating to the Arts Foundation. Because artists don't apply, and because we don't require any specifics from them, IRD has provided a non-binding ruling that says, in almost all circumstances, the award will be non-taxable in the hands of the artist.