What matters for New Zealanders’ well-being

30 Jul 2018

This content is tagged as All Artforms .

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Stephen Wainwright
Posted by Stephen Wainwright

Chief Executive - Pou Whakahaere

Palmerston North Public Art Programme
Palmerston North Public Art Programme

An important consequence of central and local government’s current attention to New Zealanders’ well-being is that it is focussing discussion on what matters most.

So you are aware the Government is in the process of introducing new legislation which will give local authorities a legislative mandate to support arts and culture in their areas. The Treasury is also working on a new framework to measure the well-being of New Zealanders.

What should matter most for those of us working in the public realm is whether our efforts are improving the quality of life of the public.

Broadly speaking, cultural investment in New Zealand is shared between local and central government.  So when local government decision and policy makers gathered for their annual conference in Christchurch, Creative New Zealand was on hand to acknowledge the excellent work happening across New Zealand with our annual sponsorship of the Creative Places Award.

It was terrific that the independent panel awarded the 2018 award to Palmerston North. Their winning proposal Framing the Big Picture has enabled public art to contribute to the quality of life in Palmerston North. It has resulted in widespread accolades, with the city now promoting its status for contemporary and public art as one of its key distinctions.

A recent story on the Stuff website describes how urban art is adding vibrancy to previously dull and unwelcoming spaces while also engaging local communities.

The terrific-ness wasn’t only that Palmerston North won the prize, but from understanding that winning was the result of previous hard work and a winning formula from the Council.

A formula with three elements:

1. Political leadership and clear sense of direction (the arts and culture strategy is notably terrific).

2.   Realising that although a great plan is a good start, a plan that has budget and resources to back actions is way better.

3. If public investment in arts and culture yields experiences that improves the lives of citizens, and helps them feel good about their community, they will support that public investment.

This is true wherever you live, small, medium or large. We salute the other finalists for Best Creative Place. They are part of a regional creative cluster of Palmerston North, Horowhenua and Kapiti!