What value do you see the arts having in Christchurch?
Art adds to the inherent value of our culture and assists in defining our identity whether as a city or personally. In short art defines us.
From a culture perspective, post earthquake, the cities reputation through the transitional projects like Restart, Gap Filler, Fledge, The Social etc changed the outside impression of who we are as a people and as a city.
We activated the streets with quirky street theatre, street art and we weren’t afraid to try new things.
So, while we continue to invest in the more traditional forms or art and culture, we have to ensure we weave some of that quirky creative cultural fabric into our new city to better reflect our personality and show visitors the things that define us and make us unique.
What Role do I play in this?
I was the person who came up with the idea for Re:START and then a small group of us set out on the journey to deliver it.
Much of Re:START’s success was due to working with community and cultural groups, street performers, street artists, buskers and social enterprise groups.
I now am a board member of Public Art Advisory Group, which invests in Public Art and I also am a board member of VBase who run venues for the city and secure and deliver many shows and concerts for the city.
What value do you see social enterprise having in Christchurch, and how will you support it?
I think the value is currently underestimated, as it can be hard to quantify. There is
• value in job creation
• value in what it delivers economically
• and value in how it makes us feel.
All these factors are important.
From a council perspective we need to find ways that we can reduce the regulation and bureaucracy which often make social enterprise harder to activate, increases initial set up costs and stifles the creativity.
What would the city look like today without the transitional movement post earthquake?
I often ask myself what would the city centre be like now if we had not done Re:START. One thing is for sure, it would not be as advanced as it is now
International evidence shows that if you do not return life to the center of devastation within a six - nine month period, recovery is much harder as peoples habits change and become locked in.
Re:START, much like other transitional projects like the Pallet Pavilion, Dance-O-Mat etc provided hope and a sense entertainment and fun,which was much needed at the time.
Prior the earthquake we were known as the conservative old English town but the quirky nature of our transitional projects got
• Christchurch Rated No.2 in the World by the New York Times calling Christchurch a “City In Transformation” that was experiencing a "rebirth with creativity and wit".
• Lonely Planet put Christchurch No.6 of the "Top 10 Cities”
Lonely Planet singled out Christchurch for the way it was "bouncing back with a new energy and inventiveness"
Interesting enough, I believe these transitional projects really only happened due to bureaucracy being too busy to stifle such creativity.
If we took all economic factors out of the equation, how would you value the contribution of the Arts?
A recent study showed that
• Those who had attended a cultural place or event in the previous 12 months were almost 60 per cent more likely to report good health compared to those who had not.
• Theatregoers were almost 25 per cent more likely to report good health.
• Engagement in structured arts and culture improves the cognitive abilities of children and young people.
A number of studies have reported findings of applied arts and cultural interventions and measured their positive impact on specific health conditions, which include dementia, depression and Parkinson’s disease.
There is also strong evidence that participation in the arts can contribute to community cohesion, reduces social exclusion and isolation, and/or make communities feel safer and stronger.
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?
We need to develop a strategy that is linked to our policies to enable the council to engage better with social enterprise.
France has developed a social economy law, which establishes that local authorities and public institutions will be required to develop and publish "schemes to promote socially responsible public procurement."
It is one of the most developed pieces of legislation of its kind in Europe supporting social enterprises.
There are many other examples around the world so we do not need to redesign the wheel.
The information is out there on how to implement such practices of which I would support.