02 Oct 2019

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Local council elections an opportunity for the arts

Creative New Zealand is encouraging people to put arts and culture on the radar at this year’s local government elections.

On now, local elections will decide the make-up of city, district and regional councils for the next three years. Elected councillors will have a huge impact on the daily lives of New Zealanders and influence the future shape of our towns and cities, including in arts, culture and creativity.

We’re encouraging people to have their say at the local elections. To help we’ve created a five-day action plan of things you can do in the lead up to the polls closing on Saturday, 12 October.

DAY 1: Thinking caps on – what do the arts mean to you, your whānau and your community?

What kinds of things matter to you and those around you? Is your city, town, neighbourhood or street buzzing with the arts? Are you happy with what you’re seeing, hearing and feeling? Jot some ideas down. Need some inspiration? Check out what people have said for Arts Month: artsmonth.co.nz

DAY 2: Time to explore – what matters to your local candidates?

There are lots of ways to find out what’s important to candidates when it comes to the arts. You can read the profile booklet that came with your voting papers, attend a local ‘meet the candidates’ hui or have a look at our new favourite tool, Policy Local: policylocal.thespinoff.co.nz – there’s a section that lets you compare candidates’ Recreation and Culture priorities – cool, huh?

DAY 3: He pātai tāu – what do you want to ask your candidates?

With your ideas from Day 1’s musings, create one or two (or more!) questions for your local candidates. Open-ended ones are good – they could be around specific issues or bigger visions, around making, presenting or experiencing the arts; anything you like. Now you’ve got some questions, feel free to leap ahead!

DAY 4: Speak up – ask candidates your arts questions

In our modern connected age there are lots of ways to reach candidates – they’re looking for your vote after all. Google them, look for flyers in your mailbox, search for them on social media, call them up – then ask them your questions. You’ll often find contact details in the profile booklet, or have a look at the Policy Local site. If they’re paying attention, you’ll get an answer pretty fast.

DAY 5: Kia kaha ki te pōti – vote!

Whether you like what they say, or not, make sure you fill out your voting papers early. They need to be in the hands of your local electoral officer no later than 12 noon on Saturday, 12 October. Just to be on the safe side, we’ll be posting ours by Tuesday, 8 October – make it your own personal voting day! (And treat yourself for helping to make a difference for the arts in Aotearoa.)

More information on the local government elections can be found at www.vote.nz or www.lgnz.co.nz/vote2019

You can also download a PDF copy of the five-day action plan and share it with colleagues, friends and whānau.

Why does it matter?

Local government plays a huge role in arts, culture and creativity around Aotearoa, and we know that arts matter for strong and prosperous communities – he mea nui ngā toi mō te hapori kaha, taurikura hoki.

With changes to the law earlier this year, cultural well-being is back on the agenda. Councils now have to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities, in the present and for the future.

Over the past year, we’ve seen a number of innovative projects emerge from local government that support arts and culture. Christchurch City Council has been working on New Zealand’s first multi-partner arts strategy, to create a vision for the city that has gathered support from major funders, the Christchurch arts sector, mana whenua and other key supporters.

In Gisborne, the District Council worked with four Turanga iwi – Ngati Oneone, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Ngai Tamanuhiri – to create Tupapa, Our Stand Our Story. The bilingual, multimedia heritage experience tells the stories of tangata whenua within the local landscape, and won the Fulton Hogan Local EXCELLENCE Award at the 2019 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards.

We’ve also seen over 1800 grants given to community arts projects through Creative New Zealand’s Creative Communities Scheme, which is distributed by local councils.