Government has to immediately compensate artists after cancelled summer festivals - Te Pāti Māori

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Artists impacted by the cancellation of summer festivals are unhappy with the government's lack of response to their plight - and now Te Pāti Māori has swung in behind their cause.

Co-leader Rawiri Waititi says the government has benefited from using artists for its campaigns during the pandemic and needs to now do the right thing, by immediately compensating them for 'stripping away' their livelihood overnight with the recent shift to the red light setting.

“The Government has used and abused our artists, musicians and creatives by using them to front vaccination campaigns for the purpose of participation at summer festivals, only to leave them out to dry by cancelling those festivals without a back-up plan to cover the loss they suffer as a consequence,” Waititi said Friday.

Waititi said artists were the reason the campaigns were successful in reaching rangatahi, for example.

“The high uptake of vaccination rates among Rangatahi can be attributed to our musicians and artists who participated in Government led campaigns to increase vaccination uptake to attend summer festivals.”

“Our musicians, creatives and artists, acting in good faith with the Government the entire time, have been repayed by having their livelihood stripped away from right under their feet within 24 hours and without any adequate support in place. It’s incredibly demoralising and highlights the value the Government places on the industry.

“The Government must act immediately by making relief funds available for our artists and creatives who have lost work due to the move to Red Light settings," Waititi said in Te Pāti Māori press release.

Waititi was especially concerned to highlight the contribution Māori artists have provided.

“In times of desperation and celebration, it is the work of our artists and creatives in Aotearoa that people turn to for inspiration and hope. Their collective influence across the world far outweighs the influence of any political party and that must be recognised.

“For Tangata Whenua, their influence is even more powerful because our Māori creatives are the protectors and projectors of our indigenous voice. They are our academics and are an integral part of the fabric that makes our country Aotearoa.”

Te Pāti Māori press release includes a comment from musician Ria Hall who describes the situation as 'unacceptable'.

“On the basis that our industry and sub sets of the wider live performance and arts industry have been compliant and patient; we are double vaccinated and have participated in Government-led campaigns to encourage vaccination based on festivals over summer as an incentive; the lack of response nearly a week since the announcement is unacceptable,” Hall said.

On her Facebook page, Hall expressed gratitude for Waititi's support.

"Rawiri is the only MP to come out and openly support our sector, expressing his deep concern and disappointment at the lack of any form of adequate response from New Zealand Labour Party and in particular Jacinda Ardern. Kei tāku ihorei, Rawiri! E mihi ana!"

Hall's post, sharing the press release, was warmly received by fellow musician Che Fu, who commented "Thank you sista. I appreciate what you do for us - ALWAYS. Mauri ora."

More than 24,000 have signed an online petition demanding the government provide support payments for those working in the live events sector who are "completely without work for the foreseeable future".

A spokesperson for Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni told 1News Friday afternoon that the minister had met with officials to talk about how to adapt the government’s Covid-19 recovery response to the arts sector.