The People's Choice
1) What value do you see the arts having in Christchurch, and how will you support the arts?
The value of arts in Christchurch can be easily defined by reflecting on its state directly after the earthquake compared to now. What became clear after the earthquake—when so many of our public spaces, galleries and cultural venues were unable to operate—was how much we rely on the arts to provide a venue for discourse, reflection and enjoyment. The events, productions and artworks that represent 'the arts' are what we plan our weeks around, they are what enliven our public spaces, their content and message often causes us to critically engage with our social and political environment. It was amazing to see examples of how traditional venues for the arts was replaced by the likes of Gap Filler in that time after the Earthquake - how well the arts were able to adapt and continue to provide that space for reflection and discourse, but it has also been so refreshing to see major institutions like the Christchurch Art Gallery open back up, and commission works like Ronnie Van Hout's Quasi and Martin Creeds Everything is going to be alright — both examples of art engaging with the public on a higher level - moving out of the gallery, meeting the public where they are and including them in the conversation.
2) What would the city look like today without the transitional movement post earthquake?
I think that transitional projects such as Gap Filler, Rekindle's Whole House Reuse project, and the ongoing Festival of Transitional Architecture all show how valuable the arts have been in how, as a city, we have processed and talked about the earthquake. These are projects that have also gained international significance (have been profiled internationally, put Christchurch on the map) and continue to shape how we think and talk about the city today. It's great to see how these initiatives have been supported by both local and national funding bodies, and the networks and people that have come together around these kinds of initiatives are continuing to think of new ways to be part of the larger conversation about the re-shaping of our city.
3) If we took all economic factors out of the equation, how would you value the contribution of the Arts?
As I've stated already, the arts plays a key role in how we engage with everyday life, and world around us. This being the case, its hard to put value on something that really is invaluable... perhaps the best way to do this is to always remember it has a vital role to play in society - surely this would help when it comes to commissioning any new arts initiative; to look at its potential for discourse, criticality, and wide viewership.