Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The silence of the lambs

Once a month we put three names into Google News Search: Christopher Finlayson, Alastair Carruthers and Michael Houlihan. The results are uniformly depressing. For those of you who have no idea who these people are, Finlayson is Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Carruthers is Chair of Creative New Zealand and Houlihan is Chief Executive of Te Papa.
Given that our news outlets are almost entirely driven by media releases, you might think that the three top advocates for the arts would be reasonably well represented. Not a chance. 

Let’s start at the top. The Right Hon Christopher Finlayson has given 11 speeches in 2011, none of them on the arts, and over the last six months he's given only one with art as its topic. He sticks to announcing appointments to arts organisation for his arts advocacy. His Google News listing features the announcement of the Philanthropy Report (rich-people-need-to-give-more-money-to-the-arts) in December last year but not much else. 

The Chair of CNZ doesn't seem to speak publicly at all. No Google news hits on the arts (and only one hit at all). A search on the CNZ site only turns up comments on CNZ reports and appointments and one speech given way back in 2008

As for the Chief Executive of Te Papa, OK he’s only been here around six months but his views on the arts in NZ? Go figure. The only public speech reference we can find was slated for 25 February and you had to be there at 7.15 in the morning to catch it (the TP-CE was going to “share his vision for Te Papa with the Wellington Employer’s Chamber of Commerce). We’ll ask Te Papa for a copy and let you know what he had to say. 

So public advocasy for the Arts in New Zealand, not so much. And that is why OTN readers have to put up with animal art, art in the movies and pointy sculpture stories.