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27 Mar 2024

LTP - What is a Long Term Plan and why should I contribute?

LTP - What is a Long Term Plan and why should I contribute?

Local government is part of all of our daily lives in a multitude of ways. Often these civic connections are things we might not always consider as being part of council work. Beyond the typical understandings of roads, water and rubbish, our local councils have a duty to support and enhance the four wellbeings of local communities – this means social, economic, environmental and cultural.

So, councils enable, provide or make contributions to spaces, places and services. They do this through utilising rates and debt to invest in communities.

Local Government NZ outlines the role of local councils as “to enable democratic decision-making by and for communities and to promote their social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing. In practice, this means everything from footpaths and lighting and the supply of freshwater/wai to resource management and environmental health and safety. They look after a multitude of community facilities, services, and public spaces we can enjoy — from parks and playgrounds, community centres, libraries, sports arenas and concert halls to beaches and rivers.”

So from the perspective of arts, culture and creativity – what does that mean?

Well, local councils can provide funds, and resources such as venues and public programming, to support arts, culture and creativity in their communities. They enable, provide or make contributions to spaces, places and services like parks, gardens, libraries, community halls, sports fields, theatres, and more – all spaces where creativity can flourish! What we might not realise is that this support is often a critical component in enabling this work to happen. Providing investment into making the work of artists, creatives and community organisations accessible and engaging in the spaces and places we live.

Okay, but what is an LTP and why is it important?

The Long-Term Plan or LTP is the key planning tool for councils.

According to the Department of Internal Affairs

Its purpose is to:

  • Describe the council’s activities and the community outcomes it aims to achieve
  • Provide integrated decision-making and coordination of the resources
  • Provide a long-term focus
  • Show accountability to the community
  • Provide an opportunity for participation by the public in council decision-making processes

Essentially the LTP sets out the work a council plans to do over ten years (or longer). The plan describes how all the different parts fit together, what it might cost, and how those investments will improve the social, economic, cultural and environmental wellbeing of Aotearoa New Zealand’s communities. 

As part of that process (which is taking place this year) is that people in our communities can step forward as citizens to express their views on the situation and share that with elected officials. We can all outline which things are most important to us, to highlight what matters, and to contribute to the broader outcomes that will best serve all people in our communities. 

But why does that matter for our creative community?

These consultations are an important opportunity to help councils realise what is important to the people who live here. As the long-term plans are being developed, we need mayors and councillors to hear how important arts, culture, creativity and ngā toi Māori are to you and your community. 

If you think that having accessible and sustainable creative spaces in every community is important – this is the opportunity to say so. You can share how this support and investment “enables further creative activity within the community, it builds audiences through making arts experiences more affordable and accessible. This is vital for wellbeing, and should be seen as an ongoing investment in the community rather than a handout.”

Creative people understand the power of engaging with creative things. We understand the contributions these things make to moments of joy and connection. We may already know that it is vital that we support the sharing of our local stories through the richness of the many cultures and artforms that can be found in our region. But our elected officials may not have that front of mind.

We know that the current situation is complex, and elected members are working through a range of different considerations – which includes future investment, rates, and levels of service provision. This process needs to be considering more than the percentage of rates increase, but how we support our future. Investing now is a way we can make things better for our children and grandchildren. We must balance the current context while encouraging our politicians to remember the scope of their work is broad and it needs to engage with a meaningful vision for the future. This means we need to contribute by taking this opportunity to share why these creative good things matter with a strong collective voice.

We want local councils that support local creative activity. We want arts, culture and creativity to be seen and understood as essential parts of modern life – they provide spaces to connect, entertainment and joy, city pride and connection to place. Often the loudest voices in the room are negative ones, complaining about councils ‘sticking to their knitting’ – well the good thing is that creativity is part of the councils knitting, and we can remind them of that with a big loud singing voice.

What do I actually need to do?

Democracy works when people utilise their voice. This doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a simple statement in the online portal, or a letter addressed to the council LTP submissions. Each council does it differently, but we are trying to compile some information here for you. 

Some councils may use a submission template or ask a series of specific questions for you to respond to. You can start by searching your council website – they should make it clear when submission opens and closes and how to engage. 

Creative Waikato can provide support for our communities in Waikato District, Hamilton City, Waipā District, Ōtorohanga District, Waitomo District, Ruapehu District, South Waikato District, Matamata-Piako District, Hauraki District, Thames-Coromandel District, and the Waikato Regional Council. As plans are released we will be sharing things we learn and connection to our submissions. 

You don’t need to answer every question. You don’t need to have every detail. Just comment on the things that matter most to you – and if you use local examples of those positive outcomes that is ideal. The best approach is a strength-based framing of what matters and why we should support it. 

This should be about us working together to ‘make a bigger pie’ – creating a thriving community that we are excited to be part of.

Other useful resources include:

Arts Action Now! is an online resource supporting engagement with the LTP process – they say: “Community feedback can influence a council to make changes to its draft plan. The more focus or ‘noise’ there is on an issue or opportunity, the more likely a council will listen. Your submission is your chance to let your Council know how much arts and culture activities and resources, from festivals, to performing arts, ngā toi Māori, public art, and galleries, contribute to the quality of life of your community.”

There are other resources to support this type of engagement – like this from Creative NZ

What are the next steps?

  • Have a think about the things that matter most to you?
  • Think about ways to highlight the strengths of having arts, culture and creativity in your local community 
  • Try to focus on those shifts and things that will make your engagement flourish – rather than negative things in our sector. The shared voice is much more impactful in the long run
  • Creative Waikato will provide updates and more information on this story as things become available – so you can check back here and follow our social media for more

Creative Community Council Summaries

The team at Creative Waikato have been working through the council consultation documents to try and support our communities to highlight key relevant parts of the process. 

You can use this information to help guide your submission. Or you can just tell them why arts, culture and creativity are important to you and should be a priority for them.