MY SUBMISSION TO CHRISTCHURCH CITY COUNCIL ON THEIR ARTS STRATEGY POLICY
Public notification that a strategy policy was even being developed has been appalling. That aside, if the CCC truly does want Christchurch to be "an innovative and exciting place to live, where our creativity helps us reach our potential", it must first address the following things:
(1) Even before the quakes of 2010 and 2011, and massively exacerbated by them following, is the issue of affordable space, both for creative working environments (exhibitions, studios, rehearsal, performance etc), but also living space because creative practitioners for the most part don’t have a lot of disposable income.
(2) Relevant to point (1), the cities that attract creative talent and sustain vibrant national and world-class cultural lives (Berlin, for example) combine a balance of affordable living, lifestyle and working with places to exhibit/perform, patronage and audiences.
(3) The current post-quake arrangement of arts advocacy being essentially a duopoly between Arts Voice and Christchurch Arts Audience Development Trust is unworkable and unsustainable as it merely serves the interests of already established organisations and institutions without allowing any room for individuals or new organisations to approach and develop.
(4) The reconstruction of the inner city has meant a total gentrification that ignores the needs of fringe and boutique cultural life – there is, for example, no longer a High Street full of second hand books, clothes and furniture, no close concentration of art galleries, no cheap city accommodation. I can see potential in the east end of St Asaph St, but the CCC is going to need to offer inducements like better street parking.
(5) Young artists/practitioners have been largely ignored in policy development, which is utterly ridiculous.
(6) The suburbs, especially in the east of the city, have been completely marginalised and largely ignored. That is incredibly short-sighted, not least because this is an area of affordability where creative practitioners live, and yet resources are limited.
I will end on a salient comment by art critic Anthony Byrt in the September/October issue of Metro in relation to similar issues in Auckland, “If you really want to make this a great place to live, give it back to the people who bring it to life”.