State of the Arts Survey Aotearoa, February-March 2022 Summary of findings

Summary of findings

This report presents the findings from an online survey of those in the creative sector in Aotearoa, between February-March 2022. This is the second national survey in a series of surveys intended to track the state of the arts sector in Aotearoa. In total there were 707 respondents nationwide, and results are discussed below.


Creative freelancers dominated the total sample: More respondents reported being a creative freelancer (61%) than any other role in the creative sector. This was followed by unpaid/voluntary creative individuals (25%), and leaders of a creative not-for-profit (17%).

Visual and performing arts were strongly represented in the total sample: Respondents were active in many creative areas. Visual arts was the most prominent area reported (47%), followed by performing arts (41%) and music (25%).

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 September-October survey, pessimism increased from 60% to 68%, and optimism fell from 38% to 29%, indicating a shift towards a pessimistic view.

Fewer respondents expected to either increase their current staff or contractor numbers, compared to the previous survey: The number of respondents who expect to take on new staff or contractors had decreased (from 37% to 24%) and those who expect staff or contractor numbers to stay the same or reduce had increased (from 38% to 46% and 8% to 15% respectively).

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 September-October survey, pessimism increased from 44% to 52%, and optimism fell from 54% to 46%, indicating a shift towards a more pessimistic view.

More respondents reported that audience appetite for their creative work had decreased: With 37% reporting audience appetite being less than usual, 23% reporting that it was the same as usual and 25% reporting that it was more. Overall, the average rating was 1.9 out of 3 (from 1 meaning less than usual to 3 meaning more than usual). This is lower than the average rating for September-October (2.1).

In this survey respondents shared the things they were most worried about in 2022 in relation to their creative work or the work of their organisations. The most commonly raised concerns were:

  • The impacts of the pandemic on their creative work and/or the creative sector more broadly.
  • Whether they would have enough money to live on and/or whether their organisations or businesses would survive.
  • The extent to which there was enough financial support for the creative sector and about how funding was allocated.
  • Respondents shared their concerns about the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions such as limits on audience numbers, border restrictions, vaccination mandates and passes as well as worries about keeping themselves and others safe.
  • The ability to connect with audiences and potential buyers of creative work. Some were worried that audiences won’t return and that low visitor numbers meant fewer purchasers of art and other creative works.
  • Ongoing cancellation of events, with people reporting both the financial and emotional costs.
  • Some were worried about not being able to do creative work because they needed to do other paid work to make ends meet or because there were few opportunities for performing.
  • Systemic issues such as which groups are in decision-making positions in the creative sector and the design of funding structures.
  • How the stress of the pandemic was impacting on their well-being, particularly mental well-being, and of others around them.
  • Some were worried about the loss of highly skilled people from the creative sector.
  • Other themes included: the lack of value placed on the creative sector; the difficulty with trying to develop a career in the creative sector; the number of venues that are closing and the worry that some of these closures may be permanent; increasing inequities; and problems with supply chain issues affecting the ability to perform and/or create works.

Respondents shared the things they were feeling most positive about in 2022 in relation to their creative work or the work of their organisation. The following themes were identified:

  • People shared that they felt most positive about their creative practice and/or their ability to at least do some work.
  • Having the time and space to develop new works, explore ideas or study.
  • Audience enthusiasm for the creative industries, including enthusiasm for Māturanga Māori, international interest and potentially pent-up market demand for creative products and services.
  • The lifting of COVID-related restrictions, particularly after the Omicron wave and returning to normal.
  • Community connections and support within the creative sector plus opportunities for partnering and collaboration.
  • The potential for innovation and creativity and the creative sectors’ role to engage with diverse communities.
  • Respondents shared that they felt positive about the resilience of creative people.
  • The financial and government support they had received and their ability to keep creating.
  • Some people shared that they had nothing that they felt positive about.
  • Other themes included: the opportunities created by digital platforms and media; the intrinsic value of artists and creative activities; any opportunities for performing; the move towards indigenous frameworks and economic prosperity for Māori and receiving positive feedback about creative work.

 Adrian Field
Sarah Greenaway
Adela Wypych


We are very grateful to all who participated in this survey and gave their time and thoughts. This research was funded by Arts Wellington with the support of Wellington City Council (Pōneke), Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi (Tāmaki Makaurau), Creative Waikato and Te Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage.


We recently completed the analysis of results from our quarterly State of the Arts survey. This survey was conducted in February and March 2022, during ongoing red light Covid restrictions across the country. The findings showed a concerning but unsurprising continued decline of optimism across various metrics, notably financial position, achievement of creative goals and appetite for creative work.

The findings, both regionally and nationally, show that while emergency funding support has been administered, there are still a large need for longer term systemic and structural change for the arts, creative and cultural sector to rebuild and thrive. While there is a level of hopeful optimism from respondents, these findings echo the need for a long-term sustainable sector strategy and infrastructure.

The quarterly survey aims to measure trends over time about the state of the arts sector in Aotearoa and tap into key issues emerging in the creative sector, allowing more effective sector advocacy on behalf of individuals and organisations.

The final quarterly State of the Arts survey will be live in June 2022.

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