The future of our arts sector is uncertain, as the government looks to cut back on spending.

Arts Minister Paul Goldsmith told 1News he believes the arts is important for New Zealand “because of the joy that it brings”.

“I see it as an important economic role as well,” he said.

However, the sector has been sidelined as one of the coalition government’s priorities in its first 100 days in power.

“Whilst we appreciate Minister Goldsmith’s obvious musicianship and also his attendance at lots of arts events, the lack of a National government arts policy is highly regrettable,” Arts Festival director Shona McCullagh said.

Goldsmith, who was not National’s arts spokesperson prior to the election, said he preferred to meet with the sector before making any plans.

“It certainly will be a priority,” he said.

While Finance Minister Nicola Willis “is going to be pretty tough over the next couple of years”, Goldsmith said he would “stand and defend the arts spending that we’ve got best I can”.

“Ultimately, we’ve got to be creative and make sure that we get good value for the investment that we have at the moment.”

But without more money, the sector says it will struggle, reducing its ability to allow local talent to flourish on the world stage.

McCullagh highlighted how Creative New Zealand, which invests in local artists and arts organisations, has been “on the same level of government funding that it was in 2006 – that’s 17 years while the [consumer price index] has raised by 52.6%”.

“We are basically facing people leaving the arts sector because they simply can’t afford to live.”