Te Pāti Māori is calling for the Government to compensate artists, musicians and creatives immediately. 

This comes at a time where Aotearoa is in the Red traffic light setting and members of the arts industry say they are feeling forgotten about

There's no wage subsidy because many businesses can operate but with concerts, gigs and festivals either postponed or cancelled, artists are feeling frightened and scared about what this means for their livelihoods. 

On Friday afternoon, Te Pāti Māori co-Leader Rawiri Waititi said in a statement “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".

“Our musicians, creatives and artists, acting in good faith with the Government the entire time, have been repaid by having their livelihood stripped away from right under their feet within 24 hours and without any adequate support in place," Waititi said.

"It’s incredibly demoralising and highlights the value the Government places on the industry."

Waititi said the Government needed to act immediately by making relief funds available for artists and creatives who have lost work due to the move to Red.  

“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."

“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," Waititi said. 

“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."

Those in the arts have spoken out about their concerns. 

Singer-songwriter Jazmine Mary previously told Re: News that in the past when live performances have been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, the wage subsidy provided basic support for people working in the arts to keep paying their rent, bills and to keep feeding their families. 

But this time around, that same type of support is missing.  That’s why Mary wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asking for this to change. 

“Artists and music were used as a motivation to get people vaccinated. There was live music at vaccine events, the two shots for summer campaign showed music festivals.”

“So I'm not really asking or begging. I do have an expectation that people in New Zealand will be looked after in these situations. There just needs to be that basic support to keep people safe.”

Sarin Moddle, a freelance tour manager, was set to tour around New Zealand for the next four months. 

Speaking to Re: News earlier this week, Moddle said “myself, like everyone else in the industry, was really looking to the next three to four months to realistically provide 70 to 80 percent of our income for the entire year".

“Summer is already a busy time of year, but this year we had so many reschedules over the last 12 months. 

“Everything was kind of restacking itself onto this summer. So to have those disappear, and the wage subsidy as well, is really frightening and stressful.”

On Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni said the minister had met with officials to talk about how to adapt the Government’s Covid-19 recovery response to the arts sector. 

Top Image: A musician on stage. (File photo) Photo: electravk/iStock

More stories:

No wage subsidy for artists during Red: 'Frightening and stressful' 

Five summer events still going ahead at Red

Life with Omicron overseas: What we need to prepare for