Quite simply, the arts are life-enhancing, entertaining and define our personal and local identities.
Research shows that cities that emphasise art possess more civic and social engagement and better community wellbeing. The arts create social offerings - openness and places for people to meet each other, creating a feeling that people in the community care about each other. It is part of placemaking. Art gets people talking.
It is also good for the economy. Locals support theatres, galleries and events, spending money to support local businesses such as hospitality and transport. Art can turn places into a choice tourist destination.
Art speaks to everyone differently through different means and that’s why it is such a draw for people of every culture to observe. Cultural expression is an important part of wellbeing for Tangata Whenua and a taonga (treasure) for all to enjoy.
I have regularly attended cultural events from all ethnicities. I see dance, music, poetry. I see the young and the old sharing the traditions of their culture and creating new expressions. They feel connected and valued and sharing helps others understand and appreciate the values of other cultures.
I know that this city is better because it has Boon Street Art, The Meteor (with over 40 events a year), The Hamilton Garden Arts Festival and the Museum to name just a few places.
We also have amazing smaller galleries such as Welcome Swallow & Weasel where local artists of all ages can emerge and show talent, and top national artists can exhibit. This drives creativity and economy. Riverlea Theatre, the home of Musicmakers and Playbox, is a place for people to learn stagecraft and gain huge self- confidence. This is a place of well-being and personal expression. I see personal growth when I go there, I see accomplishment and enjoyment.
Music is an important part of the arts. Over the past 3 years, I have attended events run by Orchestras Central. I have enjoyed and been delighted with the quality of the events and musicians. It was a transformational experience. I am pleased that they have received Creative New Zealand funding.
The arts do not thrive without funding. I am also pleased that Creative Waikato received funding in 2018. Waikato was not getting its fair share of Creative NZ funding and we must continue to support applications.
We are lucky in Hamilton to have trusts such as Mesh, Toti, One Victoria that take a lead in the art space. That is good. Artists need to influence and drive the arts. Vibrant cities support artists to do this. I support working with Creative Waikato and others from the creative sector to re-establish an art advisory forum to bridge the gap between the council and our arts community.
Hamilton is a creative gem in the heart of the North Island and our potential for creative events and arts-based cultural tourism is huge. As Mayor, I will create better collaboration and be an enthusiastic ambassador for all the arts in our fabulous city.
“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.”
~John Lubbock (1834-1913), “The Pleasures of Life"