PM Jacinda Ardern says she disagrees with decision to pull funding for school Shakespeare competition

The Prime Minister says she disagrees with Creative New Zealand's decision to decline a funding proposal for the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand. 

Creative NZ declined the proposal of $31,000 which would go towards funding the centre from 2023 to 2025.

The organisation is behind an annual competition where high schools across Aotearoa perform scenes from Shakespeare's plays. 

The competition has been running since 1991 and has had more than 120,000 students participate. 

But the funding has been denied because “the proposal did not demonstrate the relevance to the contemporary art context of Aotearoa in this time and place and landscape". 

The proposal assessors went on to say "this genre was located within a canon of imperialism and missed the opportunity to create a living curriculum and show relevance to the contemporary art context of Aotearoa". 

But it seems Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern doesn't agree with Creative NZ's decision. 

Speaking with AM on Monday, Ardern said she performed in the festival as a youngster. She went on to say it provided an opportunity for kids interested in theatre to compete with each other. 

"The way I would describe it is when you've got kids who are interested in theatre there aren't many opportunities for them to participate, other than versions of stage challenges and the likes. There aren't many opportunities to compete and that's what Shakespeare in schools became a vehicle for," she said. 

Ardern told AM while she doesn't agree with the decision it isn't her place to get involved. 

"I have seen the coverage and some of the discussion around the funding of this programme, we in Government don't make those individual funding decisions and nor should we. We've got a separate body in Creative NZ that does that. That does not mean I am going to agree with every decision they make or the rationale for it."

She also encouraged Creative NZ and the Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ to discuss the decision further. 

"I understand the parties might be coming back to talk with one another, if that hasn't happened already I encourage that to happen. But as I say, I participated in it, thought it was a great programme and still do. But those decisions don't sit with me."

The Prime Minister's criticism was shared by Shakespeare Globe Centre of NZ CEO Dawn Sanders who told AM she was "gutted". 

"There are so many young people who have benefited. We've had about 120,000 students go through our festivals and other events and what they've gone on and done is phenomenal," Sanders said. 

"It is a really misplaced decision," she added.