Statements of Service Provision

4 Cultural wellbeing
​Oranga ahurea

Reflecting and shaping Wellington’s unique cultural identity

By The Numbers


Cafes, bars and restaurants – that’s more places to eat and drink per capita than New York. 16


Galleries in Wellington. 17


Food events in Wellington On a Plate, making it New Zealand’s largest food festival. 18

81% and 92%

New Zealanders and residents perceptions that Wellington has a culturally rich and diverse arts scene. This compares to 84% for New Zealanders and 91% residents in 2014/15. 19

Cultural wellbeing – at a glance

Outcomes Connected-city People-centred city Eco-city Dynamic-city
Relevant LTP objectives

“Investing to grow” through establishing a programme of major projects that grow the economy and deliver returns on investment;

Investing to maintain and improve existing services, including making infrastructure more resilient and the city’s transport system more efficient;

Increasing the use of existing assets rather than spending on new infrastructure;

Improving asset management practices to better manage risk and the timing of asset replacement; and

Achieving ongoing efficiencies from shared services and improved customer experiences.

LTP key activities Arts and Cultural Activities.
Relevant LTP projects Inclusive and culturally diverse city; Increasing the range of visitor attractions; Increasing funding for major events; New Zealand Festival; An indoor arena; and Wellington Convention Centre.
Operational expenditure Operational expenditure (as per financial summary).

The strength of Wellington’s creative culture depends on people, the output of artists, writers, musicians, and dancers and on the expressiveness of Wellington’s communities. We fund events and festivals, support attractions such as Te Papa, the Carter Observatory (Space Place), and the city’s galleries and museums, and also support community art and cultural activities. We work in partnership with the business community, and four other councils in the region, providing support for regional art and cultural activities.

We fund these activities because they matter to the lives of individual Wellingtonians, and to the community as a whole. They contribute to a diverse economy, and build on Wellington’s reputation as New Zealand’s arts and culture capital. They also make the city a more vibrant place to live, help develop healthy and connected communities, and improve residents’ quality of life.

Case study


Artsplash is a 5-day young people’s arts festival that brings together primary and intermediate schools from throughout the Wellington region to celebrate dance, music, visual art and wearable art. Around 8,000 children participate in this unique-to-New Zealand event, which is organised and coordinated by Mary Prichard. During its 28 years, Artsplash has grown into a significant event on Wellington City Council’s annual calendar.

Music-making “by young people, for young people” is at the heart of Artsplash. Youth orchestras perform alongside the Artsplash Band on the main stage, and smaller groups perform in the foyer as family and friends make their way into the auditorium. The festival also includes students choreographing and performing their own dance routines, showcasing their own wearable art creations, and seeing their visual works of art displayed in a public exhibition.

“Artsplash is completely accessible to everyone – the kids come from all different backgrounds and there are no auditions,” says Mary.

Artsplash has been a key early experience for many of our emerging young artists, including soprano Bianca Andrews, and internationally renowned tenor Ben Makisi and concert pianist Ludwig Treviranus.

The 2016 festival was held at the Michael Fowler Centre over August and September 2015. Performances included partnerships with Virtuoso Strings, Wellington Youth Sinfonietta Orchestra, and Chilton Amadeus Orchestra.

Arts and cultural activities
Ngā mahi toi me ngā ngohe ahure

Supporting arts activity adds vibrancy to the city as well as promoting inclusive and strong communities

What we do and why

Our arts activities ensure Wellington builds on its reputation as New Zealand’s arts and culture capital, by continuing to be home to top-class museums and art galleries, orchestras, dance and theatre companies. A strong arts and culture sector contributes to a diverse economy, a creative identity and connected communities, which is why we live here.

Our activities include:

Over the year these activities contribute to the following outcomes:

Outcome Outcome statement
People-centred city
  • Museums, galleries and visitor attractions shape Wellington’s sense of place and identity. They celebrate creativity and ideas and increase our understanding of culture and science
  • Cultural grants support our creative sector ensuring the city is lively, full of festivals, shows and performances all year
  • Support for community arts programmes and venues allows Wellington’s creative communities to put on shows, festivals and performances
  • Cultural grants support Wellington’s cultural institutions integral to our cultural and events capital status. They provide shows and performances that make the city a lively place to visit, play and do business

Our key achievements

We supported a wide range of museums, galleries and visitor attractions (through arts and cultural projects) that shaped our sense of place and identity

We commemorated the 100th anniversary of WW1 with a range of activities over the year, including commemorations for Anzac Week. A light and sound show at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, WW1 Remembered: A Light and Sound Show 2016, highlighted New Zealand’s contribution to the war during 1916 and 1917. Remembrance, a WW100 interactive public artwork by Squidsoup, was installed in Appleton Park, Karori, but was closed early due to vandalism.

We also supported the Great War Exhibition, which had a successful year in terms of visitor numbers and experience. The exhibition attracted 179,363 visitors for the year, including school groups. An admission charge for adults of $15 was introduced by the Great War Trust from 1 March 2016 to provide additional and needed operational funding.

Did you know?

In 2015, 57% of New Zealanders and 63% of residents perceived Wellington as the arts capital of New Zealand. In 2016 this number increased to 58% of New Zealanders and 66% of residents.20

We provided support to Te Papa, who had 1,784,939 visitors, a record even beating the opening year of 1998/99. The Gallipoli: The scale of our war exhibition continues to attract high levels of visitation. Te Papa’s 2015/16 summer blockbuster exhibition, DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition, closed on Easter weekend, with 137,105 total visits. This made it the fourth most popular paid entry exhibition in Te Papa’s history, and the tenth most popular exhibition overall.

Minor, but still key city events included: Sky Show, Capital Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the Summer City Programme. Wellington Sky Show was successfully staged to an estimated audience of 100,000. A festive Capital Christmas included the Santa Parade and having the city dressed with bright lights, banners and flags, two large Christmas trees in Midland and Courtenay Place parks, and candy cane wrapping around the Railway Station pillars. The New Year’s Eve event was staged in Frank Kitts Park to a capacity crowd, with a family friendly vibe and positive media feedback. We also supported a number of more local events and projects including Youth Circus, a new Wellington Street Art Map, the Young and Hungry festival of new theatre, and the Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ.

There was also positive feedback on the programming of Meridian Gardens Magic this year, validating our decision to present a bolder, more diverse and creative event offering. The partnership with Massey’s School of Design, showcasing student light-based creations at the Botanic Garden, again brought an element of delight and innovation to Gardens Magic. We are in discussions with other faculties and institutions about possible future projects and collaborations.

Did you know?

In 2015, 85% of residents agreed ‘Wellington is an easy place to get involved with the arts’. In 2016 this number increased to 86%.21

There were three Courtenay Place Park light box exhibitions during the year, including The Visitors’ and Romance, and we sponsored other community events, including the NZCT Dragon Boat Festival, the Island Bay Festival, Chinese New Year, and Newtown Festival.

Attendee satisfaction with Council supported events declined. The reasons for low satisfaction included postponement of one event and bad weather. In addition, some attendance figures were overrated and the capacity of some venues limited.

Measure 2015/16 Actual Performance 2015/16 Target
Attendee satisfaction with Council supported arts and cultural festivals 85%
Did not achieve
2014/15 Performance

Source: New Zealand Festival

Through our CCO, the Wellington Museums Trust, we supported our visitor attractions and museums.

Council Controlled Organisation – Wellington Museums Trust

The Wellington Museums Trust operates six institutions on behalf of Wellington City Council. These are Capital E, Space Place at Carter Observatory, City Gallery Wellington, Nairn Street Cottage, Wellington Museum (including the Plimmer’s Ark display in the Old Bank Arcade) and the Wellington Cable Car Museum.

Relevant Council outcomes:

People-centred city


Museums, galleries and visitor attractions shape Wellington’s sense of place and identity. They celebrate creativity and ideas and increase our understanding of culture and science.

Key activities

The main activities of the Trust are:
  • Delivering experiences, events and exhibitions
  • Conservation of its collections
  • Research and development to enhance visitor experiences
  • Education experiences to children and young people
  • Protection of heritage of venues
  • Soundhouse Studio and work with artists and collectors

Key achievements

  • The Trust celebrated 20 years of managing and developing the Trust assets since its establishment in 1995

Museums, galleries and visitor attractions shape Wellington’s sense of place and identity. They celebrate creativity and ideas and increase our understanding of culture and science

  • The Attic development at Wellington Museum was completed in the second half of the year. Visitation to the Wellington Museum was 133,470 against a target of 120,000. The Trust launched Space Place at Carter Observatory under a new business model and exceeded visitation expectations for the year. City Gallery hosted popular exhibitions including Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation and Francis Upritchard: Jealous Saboteurs which opened in May. Demented Architecture which included the work of Wellington artist Kirsty Lilico and acclaimed Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, brought in Lego enthusiasts of all ages to contribute to The Cubic Structural Evolution Project. The Wellington Museums Trust’s institutions attracted 688,169 visitors for the year, well above the target of 600,000, with City Gallery, Wellington Museum, Cable Car Museum, Capital E and Space Place visitation rates all above target

Interesting Fact 2015/16 Actual Performance 2015/16 Target
Total visitors Total visitors:

Improved performance
2014/15 Performance

Source: Wellington Museums Trust

We provided a number of grants to support our cultural sector ensuring the city is lively, and full of festivals and performances. These grants also support cultural institutions integral to our cultural and events capital status

Our Arts and Culture Fund focuses on four areas: the city as a hothouse for talent, Wellington as a region of confident identities, active and engaged people, and our creative future through technology. The fund supports projects and key partnerships for key arts institutions in the city. Over the year we supported 69 projects with $235,795, with grants ranging from $500 for a community Matariki festival to significant large scale youth theatre, projects around the commemorations for WW1 and community murals.

In partnership with four other councils in the region, we support the Wellington Regional Amenities Fund. Ten arts and environmental organisations from around the Wellington region were granted funding from the 2014/15 round, including Aratoi Museum of Art and History, Circa Theatre, Festival of the Elements, LUX Festival Trust, Mahara Gallery, Matariki Festival, Nature Connections, New Zealand Festival, Orchestra Wellington, the Wellington Museums Trust project, and Kids to the Capital. We contributed $609,200 towards the $1,053,200 distributed by the fund in 2015/16.

Projects that reach across the region like Nature Connections, Matariki, and the Kids to the Capital initiative, which have all received funding over the past 2 years, are well underway and developing and implementing new models for working – championing collaboration over competition.

We supported community arts programmes and venues allowing our creative communities to put on shows, festivals and performances

We worked with new arts organisation Vivid to support their inaugural Street Art Festival during Fringe 2016 resulting in three new murals in the city. The inaugural Ahi Kaa festival was held during Matariki 2015, celebrating Māori theatre and dance across four theatres and supported via the Arts and Culture Fund. The inaugural Spring Uprising Festival took place in Vogelmorn in September 2015. This festival focused on community participatory arts practice and was supported by an Arts and Culture Grant22 .

We facilitated the community project, Art in the Park, at the Terrace Gardens as part of Parks Week to enliven the space and encourage people to use it. Musicians played and two artists, developed a mosaic and a mural in partnership with local residents. We also supported artists and purchased 10 artworks for the City Art Collection and continued to support a number of artists in residence programmes, including the Wellington Asia Residency Exchange and Te Whare Hēra.

We also continued to support artists in Wellington through our Toi Pōneke Arts Centre. Toi Pōneke celebrated its 10th anniversary with an open day, including a full programme of local musicians, performance art, public talks and open studios and offices. Toi Pōneke Gallery delivered 13 exhibitions during the year and held seven public programmes. An Open Studios Day was held during CubaDupa.

We worked, often in partnership, on a number of mural projects in the city, including:

Temporary public art projects were also supported, including PARK(ing) Day on 9 March, a day of temporary installations in car parks throughout the central city, organised by the Wellington Sculpture Trust.

Masons Screen, a 24 hour outdoor screen for video art, was launched in December as part of the Council’s Masons Lane upgrade. We are partnering with arts organisation CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand to deliver the pilot programme over the next year, with a new video featured each month.

Our performance

Quality and usage of arts and culture support activities: There was an increase from last year in attendee satisfaction with the arts and cultural festivals we support. We were below our target for this measure. This is largely due to events such as weather postponements that are beyond our control. Customer satisfaction with the New Zealand Festival has increased from 2014. The economic impact of the New Zealand Festival was below target largely because many of our regional visitors chose to attend the earlier Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, instead of the New Zealand Festival the following weekend. Further detail can be found in the section ‘Measuring our Performance’.


How it was funded

Services in this activity are funded through a mixture of general and targeted rates and external grants and subsidies from non-Council sources.

What it cost 2015/16

4.1.1 City Galleries and Museums        
Expenditure 9,094 9,208 114 8,379
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 9,094 9,208 114 8,379
4.1.2 Visitor attractions
(Te Papa/Carter Observatory)
Expenditure 3,121 2,840 (281) 3,033
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 3,121 2,840 (281) 3,033
4.1.3 Arts and cultural festivals        
Expenditure 2,601 2,692 91 3,569
Revenue (263) (410) (147) (441)
Net Expenditure 2,338 2,282 (56) 3,128
4.1.4 Cultural grants        
Expenditure 856 858 2 1,037
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 856 858 2 1,037
4.1.5 Access and support for community arts        
Expenditure 659 659 - 569
Revenue (74) (62) 12 (63)
Net Expenditure 585 597 12 506
4.1.6 Arts partnerships        
Expenditure 2,271 2,277 6 1,834
Revenue (507) (515) (8) (482)
Net Expenditure 1,764 1,762 (2) 1,352
4.1.7 Regional Amenities Fund        
Expenditure 641 609 (32) 656
Revenue (32) - 32 (34)
Net Expenditure 609 609 - 622

* The capital expenditure budget consists of the LTP amount plus the carry forward from 2014/15.
1 Over budget due to additional depreciation and impairment of Carter Observatory assets.
2 Wellington Museum upgrade completed under budget.
3 Under budget due to delays and changes in the Cable Car Trail project.
4 Under budget due to the design process taking longer than expected for the Pou Whenua to be placed at the Taputeranga reserve.

4.1.1 City Galleries and Museums 2        
Expenditure 1,644 1,914 270 1,807
Unspent portion of budget to be carried forward N/A - - N/A
4.1.2 Visitor attractions
(Te Papa/Carter Observatory)
Expenditure 268 311 43 554
Unspent portion of budget to be carried forward N/A 43 - N/A
4.1.4 Cultural grants 4        
Expenditure 40 100 60 -
Unspent portion of budget to be carried forward N/A 60 - N/A
4.1.5 Access and support for community arts        
Expenditure 16 26 10 10
Unspent portion of the budget to be carried forward N/A - - N/A

Cultural wellbeing – overall summary


We made progress towards the activities for year one of the LTP despite some delays in our capital works programme. Generally speaking, Wellingtonians have a positive attitude towards the role we play as the arts capital of New Zealand. Visitor numbers were up for our museums, galleries and Te Papa. The economic impact of the NZ Festival shows a decline – but these figures exclude the impact of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo held the weekend before the festival. There were delays to our capital programme although we successfully completed the Wellington Museum upgrade under budget. On balance, our activities in this area have helped us make a significant boost in the achievement of our outcomes.

16WCC Wellington City Profile – Key facts about the city
17WCC Wellington City Profile – Key facts about the city
18WCC Wellington City Profile – Key facts about the city
19WCC Residents Monitoring Surrvey 2016
20National Wellington Reputation Survey Results 2016
21National Wellington Reputation Survey Results 2016