Without questioning the goodwill of arts-administrators populating the new Arts Voice Christchurch committee, I’ll point out the near-absence of working-artists amongst its members.
An arts advocacy group shy of artists is not unique to Christchurch. Dearth of artists and a surplus of administrators in such roles is an almost universal phenomenon. Public funding for the arts - in New Zealand and internationally – represents more of an employment scheme for arts-administrators (and their organizations) than any sort of meaningful, ongoing, support for the essential core of any art community - working artists.
Hot on the heels of both earthquakes young, un-supported, working artists (including artists who’d lost studios) spontaneously mounted ad hoc exhibitions, plays, readings, and concerts - in parlors, garages, and halls across the city.
Saturday’s Christchurch Press claimed that Christchurch’s art community elected Creative New Zealand-instigated Arts Voice Christchurch to make sure the arts carry on in Canterbury. I don’t know that any of the aforementioned young artists, or other artists I’m familiar with, knew of the inaugural Arts Voice meeting. Nor were they polled, or asked to stand for a committee now steered by the usual suspects.
The new refrain, after the Canterbury’s earthquakes, is that everything’s changed. But, apparently - as far as the Christchurch art scene is concerned - it’s business as usual.
Perhaps Eartquake Czar Gerry Brownlee should be invited to chair the committee.