30 May 2016

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Move for a new arts strategy for Christchurch welcomed

Creative New Zealand has welcomed Christchurch City Council’s move to review and update its 2001 Arts Policy and Strategy.

Submitting on the council’s Draft Annual Plan 2016-2017 and amended Long Term Plan 2015-2025, Creative New Zealand said the council was “fortunate to have a passionate, engaged [Christchurch] arts sector which will be able to provide vital input”.

“Since the earthquakes the arts have played a vital role in providing Christchurch people with opportunities to build community. The initiative and wit of the arts community’s response to the loss of most of their physical infrastructure has demonstrated how the arts can make lives better,” said Creative New Zealand chief executive Stephen Wainwright.

“The welcome return of some cherished institutions makes it timely to plan for a better future in which the contribution of the arts to social cohesion, economic growth and cultural progress is charted. We’ve seen elsewhere that an arts policy and strategy can play this role, particularly where it is informed by the collective wisdom and experience of the arts community,” he said.

The submission noted the council’s vital role in re-opening the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Wiawhetu.  “The outpouring of public emotion and affection at the gallery reopening showed the transformative powers that the arts have on people’s lives.”

The submission also noted that the beginning of work on the Performing Arts Precinct in 2018 was exciting and a “ready-to-go” activation which would “bring much needed vibrancy and activity to the city”.

While acknowledging the council’s rich support for the arts, the submission also expressed concern that arts and culture was becoming less of a priority, as the council focused on rates reduction while also increasing spending on roads and footpaths.

“Fiscal responsibility is of course very important to the council, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of developing a vibrant, livable community in which arts and culture play a fundamental role,” the submission said.

The council wants to return the city’s infrastructure and facilities to pre-earthquake conditions and improve these, where possible, but priorities for the council’s capital programme include no mention of arts or culture facilities apart from libraries.

The submission also recommended that the council not proceed with proposed fee increases for community and not-for-profit events held in the Central Business District and Hagley Park.

In 2014/15, Creative New Zealand invested $3.7 million in the Canterbury region including funding of individual arts projects and arts organisations as well as $400,000 for community arts through the Creative Communities Scheme (CCS), which is administered by local councils.

Creative New Zealand submission on the Christchurch City Council Draft Annual Plan 2016-2017 and amended Long Term Plan 2015-2025