Greens, Labour and National all released their arts policies this week in the run up to the elections. By the numbers Labour wins the page race at 13, the Greens weighed in with six and National confidently fronted up with two (plus a one page special giving Labour a not so friendly kick in the nuts). But if you’re after new ideas or leadership, don’t hold your breath.
As you might expect all three start off with a brisk round of the usual: the importance of creativity, inspiration, innovation, challenge (GO ART!), the contribution of the arts etc to economic development and not to be forgotten in this post Helen Clark era our unique and distinctive identity as kiwis.
Let's start with the party with the most to say, Labour. When it comes to (their few) policy initiatives they start strongly with a stiff “LABOUR WILL…” but for anything beyond yet another review they lame out with, “…over time and as resources allow." One thing Labour is hot on though is the establishment of “a network of Children’s Art Houses.” These are kids' clubs “where the only rules are to love art and to be kind to each other." If you want to see how truly idiotic that is you can go here.
On a more positive note they do use the hilarious acronym that the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museum sector have taken to using. GLAM. that’s spelt WTF. They also come up with the best sentence from a political party starting with the letter L. “Labour will support the development of a Memorandum of Understanding with Te Papa to improve relations.” Yes, Labour is determined to make Te Papa share. So good news for potential Te Papas North, South, East and West.
As for National, they have boldly stepped up to the plate and offered… business as usual. So look out for more institutions to be funded from the same amount of money. Less is definitely going to be more, and if you insist on more you’re going to have to come to the table with your own philanthropist. Oh, and National will make Te Papa share too (it’s an election theme).
The Greens on the other hand are going to “establish an arts and cultural promotion unit within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade”. Where do they get these ideas from? They will also “make contributions to bona fide artist organisations tax deductible along the same lines as charity donations” which pretty much happens already and a bee-in-the-bonnet issue probably from their Arts Spokesperson artist Mike Ward, to “ensure that copyright of a commissioned work is retained by the artist, not the commissioner.” Whatever.
If you were thinking of letting the visual arts guide your voting pattern in these elections, you'd probably end up staying at home. Still as W C Fields once famously said, "I never vote for anyone; I always vote against."