Thursday, April 07, 2011


When we said a while back that the Chair of Creative NZ didn’t have much to say for himself, we didn’t figure on him rising up to crush our call for more support for the arts in Christchurch. You can read his letter CNZ to the rescue in this week's Listener below. Somewhere in there though he did mention that CNZ's top three were in a meeting together “reviewing facilities and meetings with artists” when they read our 2 April piece, so that’s good.

Apart from intimating that we are a couple of Wellington rats (fair enough, we called them lambs), there’s not a whole lot of stuff about what CNZ is actually doing and, as you can probably imagine, we got a much more generous response from the folk down in Christchurch.

CNZ to the rescue
Jim and Mary Barr, like many non-Christchurch residents, have no shortage of opinion about what’s needed to fix a broken city (Listener 2 April or a shorter version on OTN here). They also remain conveniently ignorant about what has been on Cantabrians' minds and what Creative New Zealand has been doing to assist the arts community.
   I agree it’s vital to help Christchurch rebuild and reconnect with the arts and their redemptive nature. But it’s easy to be a megaphone advocate from a distance when your toilets flush and your precious collections, indeed your lives remain unshattered.
   To spend time in Christchurch, as Creative New Zealand (CNZ) staff have done since the first earthquake on September 4, is to understand first-hand what resilience and compassion mean among Cantabrians. Our Chief Executive, Arts Board Chairman and I were reviewing facilities and meetings with artists when I read the Barr piece.
   We have already provided cashflow to companies and established an emergency response fund to help CNZ-funded artists affected by the earthquake. We will continue to help as Christchurch citizens pick up the pieces and start focusing beyond their essential human needs.
   These are delicate and heartbreaking times and the people of Canterbury need to help rebuild their homes, their schools and their businesses - as well as their arts and their sports. Patience, partnership, compassion and resolve will be more helpful than complaint from afar.
Alastair Carruthers
Chair, Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa

Image: Angry lamb