Beyond Fantasy: Postcapitalist possibilities for resourcing the arts in Aotearoa

Molly Mullen, Mark Harvey, Jessie Anderson, Elise Sterback


The past two years have made it impossible to ignore the problems in Aotearoa New Zealand’s arts sector. As was the case elsewhere, the pandemic had brutal effects, with venues shut, festivals cancelled and audiences staying home. But current problems go far beyond the brutal effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Aotearoa adopted the British arts council model in 1963 and despite many social and political changes, the fundamental approach to resourcing the arts has changed little since. The established model has had clear benefits for the arts, but has not served all artists equally, has failed to deliver a sustainable income for artists and arts organisations, and has not delivered equitable access.

In this article, we draw on a research project examining the limitations of the current arts funding system and considered possible alternatives. Drawing on the findings of this research, we take inspiration from post-capitalist thinking and Donna Harraway’s speculative fabulation to depict storied moments in which the arts are resourced in ways that might currently seem fantastical but are grounded in existing possibilities. Our aim in writing these fabulations is to produce playful but possible alternative visions for cultural policy and arts funding in Aotearoa.


Arts funding; Speculative fabulation; Aotearoa New Zealand; Post-capitalism

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