Saturday, September 27, 2014

Brain still under repair. Meanwhile...

Now that the election is over here in New Zealand it seems like a good time to revisit the question - Why should we bother supporting the Arts? To some, the arts are an indulgence, a luxury that should only be fostered in times of plenty. To some, people should have 'real' jobs that make things people need or provide a service people want, rather than pursuing speculative endeavours that just aren't important and don't sell well. And they believe we shouldn't rely on government support or encouragement.

I think folk working in the creative arts do have real jobs making things people need and/or providing a service people want. It is easy to forget that a positive can-do attitude that encourages us to be motivated and innovative, and to succeed in competition around the world in business, commercial and scientific fields, sports and other areas, is born out of a belief in who we are as members of a great and unique society. Our New Zealandness is special and part of what makes us punch above our weight. We're the plucky little country that the rest of the world views as friendly and socially progressive, and yet edgy and different.

The Arts contribute to our sense of who we are and our confidence in our identity. They hold up a mirror, reflecting back at us our society's values, mores, and culture. We can't just exist on a diet of books, art, dance, film and music from other countries. We need to see ourselves and value what we have and what we can offer. We need to see that being a New Zealander is worth something. From birth to old age. The Arts foster our country's self esteem and consequently the self esteem of the individuals within it. If we only ever experience the arts of other countries, it chips away at our self confidence. And it's not enough that we enable the arts, we need to celebrate them too. If we are embarrassed about them and always look to overseas critics to endorse us and tell us we're good enough we will always be waiting for the approval of others. We make good art. Lets not lose that or we might lose ourselves.

Oh, and by the way, our books, and art, and music, and films, and dance, do sell, and win awards, both onshore and off. And supporting the arts supports the growth and well being of our nation.


Anonymous said...

well said Melinda

Jane Bloomfield said...

I love that Eleanor Catton has created her 'Reading Grant', pointing out that creating and percolating are a vital first part of the production line when it comes to Art and the making of it.