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Arts outlook good

  • October 11th, 2008

We were very pleased that more than 150 people involved in the arts in Wellington turned out last night to the New Zealand Portrait Gallery to hear National’s spokesman for the Arts, Chris Finlayson, discuss National’s policy and answer questions.  They took it seriously, as they should.  They left with the certainty that Chris will be a powerful advocate for the arts inside a National government. 

Chris has put his time and money behind the arts for a very long time. I think he’s even sponsoring a suspense thriller at Circa at the moment. 

I confess to being a happy consumer of Wellington’s vibrant arts while knowing little about arts administration.  It was fantastic to walk under the sails last Friday and be greeted by the mime dancers outside WOW, to come across young buskers playing violins in the school holidays and have dancers welcome people at last night’s meeting. 

It’s a brilliant city when you can watch rugby on Saturday afternoon and then go to the New Zealand Opera’s "Janufa" half an hour later (as we will this evening). Our neighbour, Jeremy Commons’ salon operas at the Wellesley Club, the energetic Wellington Youth Orchestra and  the Affordable Art Trust shows are among my favourites.

Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and their associated industries have been great for Wellington and yet Labour wants to make their contractors into employees.  In an up and down industry flexibility is vital. I’m sure Labour do not mean to harm the people who put us among world’s best, but It is often the casual combination of such seemingly small things that determine where industries thrive or wither..

The new unlimited tax deductibility for charitable donations, wich will cover many forms of sponsorship of  the arts, could eventually make a big difference to New Zealand artists. Proposed by National and adopted by Labour it has scarcely been realised yet how significant a broad philanthropic culture can be to to the people who otherwise spend their time bowing and scraping to those who control the taps on government patronage. 

As businesses and individual patrons realise how generous this regime is audiences may also broaden.  My firm, Chapman Tripp, has been helping Circa for 20 years and I’ve always enjoyed the "duty evenings" hosting clients to plays I might not otherwise have seen.

So I think the outlook for the arts is good, despite the current economic climate.  And there’s certainly no need for the Labour misinformation (on some accounts hysteria) which has been spread about the arts. 

Take no notice of the fearmongers.  They have another agenda.




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