22 Dec 2015
It is excellent when a major, positive news story hits the 6pm news as it recently did with the partial re-opening of the Christchurch Art Gallery this week. It has been a long wait, but good things do sometimes take time. I had the opportunity to pop into the gallery, the very busy gallery, and was struck by the range of people enjoying their visits.
On the evening of 21 December the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra performed their Canterbury Christmas. The concert included a performance by the top school aged clarinet players and carol singing by the audience. In addition to the listening there were many excited young voices asking questions of the older people they were with. We all like good navigations it seems. It always uplifting to see young shiny faces, happy families, relaxed informality, and to be part of a warm buzz.
For Whom – all New Zealanders?
Both of these events reminded me that the arts give so much joy to so many people and essentially make lives better. This is particularly obvious in Christchurch where the loss of ‘fit for purpose’ venues like the gallery and the Isaac Theatre Royal has meant that their re-openings are a bit like an old friend returning home after a long absence and are being celebrated as such. Some of the attendees I saw in the gallery seemed so happy to be back in ‘their’ gallery it was palpable.
The legislation that provides the mandate for publically funded organisations like Creative New Zealand reminds us that we are here to support the arts in New Zealand ‘for the benefit of all New Zealanders.’
We are lucky indeed that the arts are both widely available here and institutions are very mindful of the need to service as many communities as possible. No coincidence that most New Zealanders feel that the arts are part of everyday life. This is not only good for citizens at an individual level, but also at a societal level. Inclusion builds empathy, understanding and a shared stake in society. Exclusion the opposite.
I’m not really huge on new year resolutions, but I will commit to throwing down a small challenge to myself and pledge to sharing an arts or cultural experience with at least one person who wouldn’t normally have one. I expect it will be a pressie for both of us. I will report back.
Research: New Zealanders and the Arts 2014