Dean Lester (Coastal Ward)

What value do you see the arts having in Christchurch and how will you support the arts?
The People’s Choice recognises the importance of the arts to the city. Beyond the Council’s direct role supporting civic facilities like the Christchurch Art Gallery and Town Hall, a People’s Choice Council will develop a new Arts Strategy that positions the Council as a key enabler of the arts infrastructure and ecosystem in Christchurch.

What value do you see social enterprise having in Christchurch, and how will you support it?
Social enterprise is a demonstration of motivated citizens taking positive action to enhance, maintain and improve their community. A community supporting itself by citizen initiatives, such as social enterprise, includes the benefits of fostering active citizenship and developing partnerships for social innovation.   

What would the city look like today without the transitional movement post earthquake?
Christchurch has benefited greatly by the contribution of individuals and small groups who have been committed to making a difference. We often think of “making a difference” as being permanent and long lasting, but that is a narrow and one dimensional approach. Our lives are enriched and our day, or that moment in time, improved by the positive actions of others. In our recovery the opportunity has existed, and been grasped, by those involved with the arts to and colour and creative flair to our broken environment. I’m thankful this has happened because in answering your question what comes to mind is drab and grey.  

If we excluded any economic measures how would you value the contribution of the arts to our society, our city, our community?
The exclusion of economic measures is seen by way of donations and philanthropy and I recognise those that have made such a contribution to our community. The CCC has a role to recognise the value of the City’s built and cultural heritage. We are custodians of the City’s heritage and have a responsibility to preserve it as a legacy for future generations. What should not be lost as benefits of any spend on the arts are the levels of enjoyment and interaction that it brings.

Christchurch is fast becoming the social enterprise centre of New Zealand, reflected in the fact we are hosting the 2017 Social Enterprise World Forum. What seems common practice in UK city councils is for these governance bodies to prioritise social enterprises in all tendering processes to encourage local economies. What are your thoughts around bringing similar policies into CCC?
Social enterprise brings positive benefits to our community and local economy, and considering how the development of more social enterprise is possible must be duly considered.