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23 May 2019

The Arts Foundation announce new strategic direction

The Arts Foundation today announce a new direction, backing New Zealand artists to make their mark on Aotearoa.

New Zealand's dedicated arts philanthropic organisation, the Arts Foundation announces a new direction, to back artists to make their mark, help them connect with a more diverse group of arts supporters, and broaden the reach of the arts throughout Aotearoa.

The new initiatives include Kotahi, a giving community to empower artists with financial awards. Arts Ball, a celebration of ten outstanding New Zealand artists and an opportunity to fundraise for our new Springboard award, a programme which aims to bolster the career of talented young artists with financial support and mentoring. And Arts Month in September, a month-long conversation about what art is, uncovering what creativity means to New Zealanders, and exploring the value arts bring to our society.

The Arts Foundation trustees and broader community also believe it’s time for the arts to be more visible on the national agenda. Chair of the Arts Foundation, Garth Gallaway explains: "Art is so often seen as a nice to have. But we have observed a widespread movement valuing the arts, and research from around the world shows that arts and creativity have the power to drive change, whether it’s wellbeing, diversity, inclusion, or strengthening our cultural identity."

The new initiatives build on the Arts Foundation’s existing Icon and Laureate award programme, and aim to amplify the impact of the Foundation, which has distributed over $10 million to honour New Zealand's finest creatives over the past 19 years.

The new Arts Foundation strategy will be activated by national arts engagement and philanthropy specialists Brown Bread, who have had success in driving support for the arts through the power of partnerships, communications and events.

The new lead of the Arts Foundation, Jo Blair says "These new initiatives have been developed to build a new nationwide giving community supporting artists. Whether you’re giving $5.00 to an artist’s project through Boosted, $500 to empower artists making impact through Kotahi, or $500,000 to endow a Laureate Award for the future, we want to bring New Zealanders together to back the arts.”

The Arts Foundation’s new strategic direction is already attracting new partnerships and major gifts. Theresa Gattung is funding a dedicated Laureate Award for women in the arts. Dame Gaylene Preston has confirmed a Laureate Award for documentary film makers in partnership with the New Zealand Film Commission, New Zealand International Film Festival, Sir Roy McKenzie and the Vista Foundation. Wellington arts enthusiast and philanthropist, Chris Parkin, has gifted $120,000 to strengthen crowdfunding platform Boosted, and Auckland’s Chartwell Trust is joining as a significant backer of Arts Month. Chartwell Trust Founder, Robert Gardiner says: “Art is creative thinking, giving joy and understanding to all who participate. Let’s tell the world how important that is for New Zealand’s future.”

Throughout their journey of evolution, the Arts Foundation has been engaging with the Arts Council of New Zealand. Creative New Zealand Chief Executive, Stephen Wainwright says: “We were delighted to be there for the birth of the Arts Foundation and we’re excited today, nearly 20 years on, to support the Arts Foundation’s bold new vision for growing arts giving in Aotearoa.”

- Ends -

See more information below on each new Arts Foundation initiative.

The Art Foundation Initiatives for 2019


The Icon Awards will remain the same and will be celebrated in 2020.

There will now be ten Laureate Awards instead of five, each receiving $25,000. Laureates will be awarded to outstanding artists whose work is having an impact on New Zealand, contributing to our cultural identity or wellbeing. Laureate awards are also intended to positively impact the career of an artist in a significant way. These ten artists will be celebrated at Arts Ball each year.

A new award programme, Springboard will help four artists each year with a financial award of $15,000, alongside a partnership with a senior artistic mentor, a past Arts Foundation Laureate or New Generation Award winner, to help assist them with the next aspect of their career. These awards will be fundraised for at the Arts Ball.

Arts Ball – 31 August 2019

Every year we'll gather artists, arts lovers, chefs, and creatives to back the arts in Aotearoa with New Zealand's finest arts event. A collective celebration of our Laureates, Arts Ball is also an opportunity to make a real difference to four talented young artists needing a springboard into a career in the arts. Tickets go on sale on 5 June.

Arts Month - September 2019

Arts Month aims to engage New Zealand in a conversation about the arts, asking Kiwis what art means to them. This campaign will take place predominantly online – where anyone can share their view on what ‘art is’. Arts Month is supported by the Chartwell Trust.


Boosted will undergo significant development to handle the growing number of projects funded through the site. The site currently generates around $1 million in financial support for artists every year, and since it started six years ago it has raised over $5 million in gifts for artists. Boosted is the only dedicated arts crowdfunding platform in the country. Boosted is powered by the Parkin Gift.


Kotahi. United. One. The Kotahi giving programme has been designed to help realise a collective vision – that New Zealand artists and the arts are central to a thriving Aotearoa. Kotahi works with both new givers and established givers to stand together as one and support the arts.

New delivery team

Brown Bread has taken over the management of the Arts Foundation, governed by Arts Foundation Trustees. Based in three cities, they will deliver all fundraising and engagement services with a new team, including two part-time Arts Liaisons (who will manage the awards selection and drive the national conversations around Arts Month). The new Arts Foundation core team will consist of:

  • Jo Blair – Lead (based in Christchurch and Auckland)
  • Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai and Barbara Afitu – Arts Liaisons (Auckland)
  • Penelope England – Director of Relationships (Wellington)
  • Simone Reynolds- Boosted Producer (Christchurch)
  • Meredith Percival (Wellington)

Key facts about the Arts Foundation

In the 19 years since the Arts Foundation was founded, it has raised and distributed over $10 million to honour New Zealand's finest creatives across multidisciplinary art practices; rewarding both iconic artists and a new generation of artists.

In 2018 the Arts Foundation undertook a strategic review. Research indicated that a change was needed to connect with the changing face of Aotearoa and of arts philanthropy. This review led to the four new initiatives announced this year.

For more information or additional imagery, please contact

Josephine Granese, Communications Manager

Brown Bread Ltd.

021 287 0744


About the Arts Foundation

Backing artists to make their mark. The Arts Foundation was established in 1998 to honour extraordinary New Zealand artists.