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New Zealand Students' Arts Council archives 1941-1992

New Zealand Students' Arts Council archives 1941-1992

Provenance Heading

Title: A finding aid to the archives of the New Zealand Students' Arts Council

Edition: XML EAD edition

Publisher: J C Beaglehole Room, Victoria University of Wellington Library

Last Updated: Feb 2007

Author: Finding aid prepared by Matt Steindl; Nicola Frean; Rebecca Carrasco


Repository: J C Beaglehole Room, Victoria University of Wellington Library

Creator: New Zealand Students' Arts Council.

Date Expression: 1941-1992

Extent: 3500.0 Linear centimeters

Abstract: Established to 'encourage, promote and develop the practice and appreciation of culture and the arts' within the student bodies of all tertiary educational institutions, the NZSAC records include minutes, documentation of activities, and posters. The records consist chiefly of the correspondence and other documentation related to the tours and similar activities, together with financial records and council minutes, and a set of the posters advertising tours.

Historical note

The New Zealand Students' Arts Council had its origins within the confines of sports administration. As far back as 1941, the annual Universities Winter Tournament hosted a drama festival. In 1950 concern that the New Zealand University Students Association was preoccupied almost wholly with sport led to a proposal for an annual arts festival.

The first such festival took place in Dunedin in 1959, and Canterbury followed the next year. Such was the success that an Arts Festival schedule was added to the New Zealand University Students Association constitution, and in 1962 a Cultural Affairs Officer was appointed.

In 1966 the status of the Arts Festival Council was upgraded and the New Zealand Universities Arts Council was born as a standing committee of the New Zealand University Students Association. In 1968 submissions were made to the national body for finance to promote cultural affairs on a national level, and in 1970 a levy per student member was introduced to allow the Council to budget according to its own criteria. As it was a standing committee, the budget was subject to the final approval of the New Zealand University Students Association.

The major step occurred in 1972 when Student Teacher Organisations took a greater role in the decision making of the Council, and accordingly the name was changed to the New Zealand Students Arts Council. In 1972 a part-time director, Graeme Nesbitt, was appointed, and in 1973 the first full-time director, Bruce Kirkland, took office and the Council embarked on its first year with an extensive national touring programme.

In 1977 the Council separated from the New Zealand University Students Association and became an Incorporated Society in its own right. It was then an autonomous body with over 140,000 individual members from Universities, Teachers Colleges, Technical Institutions and Community Colleges throughout the country.

During the early 1980's however, the Council came under criticism for its perceived practice of supporting expensive concerts and tours at the expense of campus-focused cultural activities. This led to Canterbury University withdrawing from the Council in 1984.

As a result, the Council went through a period of restructuring in 1985 in order to become more streamlined, efficient and to bring the focus back to local campus activities. Canterbury University re-joined the Council in 1987 following these changes.

The Council again found itself in financial difficulties in the early 1990's, and in 1992 the majority of constituent members chose to withdraw from the Council and use the money for levies on cultural events on their own campuses. The Council was unable to survive this exodus and chose to dissolve that same year.


There were four basic elements to the New Zealand Students'€™ Arts Council structure: the Constituents, the Council Meeting, the Executive Board, and the staff.

The Constituents were the various Students' Associations throughout the country that made up the Arts Council. There are four different categories of membership: - University - Associate (the students' association of any technical institute or training college in NZ) - Ordinary (Financial members, employees or officers of the NZSAC) - Life (any person who had given outstanding service to the NZSAC)

The Council Meetings were held regularly throughout the year and each Constituent sent two delegates, one of whom was the Constituent's Cultural Affairs Officer. These meetings were concerned primarily with policy and financial matters. Voting at Council Meetings was on a pro rata basis, with Universities allocated four votes, and Associates one vote. Every second year the Council Meeting elected a Chairperson who was responsible for the overall operations of the Arts Council for the next two years.

The Executive Board consisted of the Chairperson, Treasurer, a representative from each of the four regions of the Council, up to three co-opted members, the Director and Assistant Director. As an Executive they were charged with the responsibility of making decisions themselves on behalf of the Constituents.

The Staff consisted of the Chairperson, the Director, the Assistant Director, the Treasurer and the Exhibitions Officer. It was the responsibility of the Council's staff to carry out the policy decisions of the Executive Council.


The constitution of the New Zealand Students' Arts Council listed a number of the different objectives of the Council. The primary objectives were: - To encourage, promote and administer the provision of social, cultural and arts activities on constituent campuses - To encourage, promote and support student and public interest in the arts in NZ - To maintain effective co-operation among the Social Activities Boards & Social Activities Managers of Constituents - To liaise between Constituent Social Activities Boards and other similar individuals and organisations in and outside NZ

In practice this meant co-ordinating social, cultural and arts activities at a national level within the constituents, co-ordinating inter-constituent artist tours, festivals and exhibitions and advising on the administration of social, cultural and arts activities within the constituents.

NZSAC Chairs: 1971 (NZUAC) Jim Stevenson 1972 (NZUAC) Graeme Nesbitt, Kaye Baxter 1973 David Cuthbert 1974 Jim Crichton 1975 Don Stedman, Lisa Sacksen 1976 Frank Stark 1977 Val Scott 1978-1979 Vincent Burke 1980-1982 Brian Sweeney 1983 Tom Weston 1984 Jonathon Blakeman 1985 Ses Salmond 1986 Graham Cockcroft 1987-1988 David Rea 1989-1990 Jeff Montgomery 1991 Michael James 1992 Joce Budge

NZSAC Directors: 1972 (NZUAC, part-time) Graeme Nesbitt 1973-1976 Bruce Kirkland 1977-1981 Paul Davis 1981-1984 Gisella Carr 1984-1986 Briony Ellis August 1986-1987 Roger Wood 1987-1989 Sue Dempsey 1989-1992 Marcia Murphy

NZSAC Assistant and Associate Directors: 1978 Holly Cooper Assistant to the Director 1979 Chrissie McIndoe Assistant Director; Sally Hollis-McLeod Exhibitions Officer 1980-1981 Gisella Carr 1981-1983 Greg Fahey 1984-1985 Margi Mellsop 1986 Mark Allen

Locations: Initially the NZSAC staff sub-let an office area within the terms of an NZUSA lease. Later they had office space at 59 Courtenay Place, Wellington, and in 1986 moved to 13 Lorne Street where they shared premises with the New Zealand University Sports' Union until the NZUSU moved out in 1989.

Scope and Content

The NZSAC records span 1972-1992 and provide information on the arts environment in New Zealand during a period of significant development. The collection concerns the functions and activities of the Council, primarily the organisation of events, tours and activities in the fields of drama, music, fine arts, etc. There is related information on arts activities at each of the constituent tertiary institutions, on relationships with agencies such as the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council (later Creative New Zealand) as well as with the New Zealand University Students' Association, on the use of agents and sponsors, and on particular events and performers. Notable repeat performers included: Limbs Dance Company, Gary McCormick and Sam Hunt, Split Enz, The Front Lawn, Red Mole, The Topp Twins, the Four Poets Tours… The records include nearly complete runs of various NZSAC publications (New Argot (1973-1975), Artery (1980-1987), and Touring Papers, later renamed Roadshow (1981-1988).

All administrative records of the NZSAC were deposited with the J C Beaglehole Room, Victoria University of Wellington Library.

The bulk of the NZSAC archives cover the twenty years of the Council's existence. There is a small amount of material outside this date range, in particular item NZSA01418 which includes Student Newspaper clippings dating back to 1880, and twelve other items including material from between 1965 and 1972, primarily to do with the predecessor New Zealand Universities Arts Council.

There is a broad range of material contained in this collection: Minutes, correspondence, reports, accounts, contracts and copies of the constitution, PR material such as news clipping and press kits, budgets, itineraries, press releases, correspondence, venue information, transport information, planning information, lists of attendees at seminars, copies and printing resources for NZSAC publications, and posters. There are also a very few audiocassette tapes and LP's sent as demos.

Arrangement note

The New Zealand Student Arts Council archives have been arranged into six major series: Administrative Records, Artists - Individual Acts (including Arts festivals), PR Files, Artists' activities by year, Orientations Publications and Seminars, and Posters.

Conditions Governing Access note

Access restrictions:

Access to the NZSAC records is open to 'bona-fide scholars or persons with a relevant need if they appear suitable to the Librarian'. Note that some files contain personal data, subject to the Privacy Act 1993.

Access to the posters is unrestricted, but use is restricted as follows: "This material has been copied by the Library of Victoria University of Wellington under Section 55(a)of the Copyright Act 1994. You may make a digital or print copy for your personal research and study use. You may not make copies of an image or part of an image for other persons, or distribute an image or part of an image to other persons by any means whatsoever including mounting the image on a server, without the written permission of Victoria University of Wellington and the copyright owner. You may not modify an image or incorporate an image or part of an image in another work without the written permission of Victoria University of Wellington and the copyright owner. You must include this copyright statement in any copy that you make."

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