Monday, February 21, 2011

Late night show

Way back, Christchurch Art Gallery’s senior curator Justin Paton fronted a documentary based on his Awa Press book How To Look At A Painting. Like so many of these ‘serious’ projects, the finished product has sat on TVNZ’s shelves while they tried their best to come up with a satisfactory time slot. After a full year (how hard can it be?) the job is now done and a time set.

So you put a big red ring around 9 PM on 4 March. But what channel we hear you ask. TV1 or TV2? Well, neither. If you have Sky you will find How to Look at a Painting on channel 97. That's the one between the RT channel (Russian Television) and the Weather Channel on TVNZ’s dumper bin for old people - TVNZ 7.

So let’s get this straight. The visual arts' most personable representative travels the nation looking at New Zealand art to demo why he believes 'painting matters to everyone, not just a cultural few' resulting in a documentary series based on his award winning, best selling book, and TVNZ chooses to treat the result with distain and play it on a wilderness channel.

OK, so here’s a big opportunity for Creative NZ.

CNZ states in its own strategic plan that its job is to be 'the national arts development agency developing, investing in and advocating for the arts.' To quote their Chair Alastair Carruthers, “We have a big mission. Collectively, art-lovers, art makers, patrons, and sponsors must help the audience for the arts to keep growing, and ensure new generations come to them. The digital age both threatens the arts and magnifies the changes to reach audiences and create new work."

Well, now’s a good time to advocate. How about CNZ stepping up and saying this is simply not good enough? How to look at a painting could be used as a major ‘audience development tool’ for the visual arts. How can the NZ arts become 'strong and dynamic' when a TV show made for a wide popular audience can be dumped on the channel nobody's watching on a Friday night.

Go get 'em tiger.