News | 23 May 2018

Survey shows Wellingtonians want art in their lives

A recent survey shows Wellingtonians are proud of their city’s creativity, and are backing investment in art and culture to make the Culture Capital a vibrant and interesting place to live, says Mayor Justin Lester.

Woman wearing lei and flower wreath and dancing.

Creative NZ has released the results of a nationwide survey on how New Zealanders engage with the arts, and showing Wellington as the top “hot spot” for access to the arts, followed by Otago, Nelson city, and Taranaki.

Wellingtonians (50 percent) are more likely than other New Zealanders (national average 30 percent) to agree that access to the arts is a reason why they live in the city.

A high proportion of Wellingtonians also think it’s important the Council supports arts-based initiatives, and four out of five believe creativity is important to the city’s identity.

“It confirms the anecdotal feedback I receive on a daily basis, where Wellingtonians hold the arts, culture and creativity sector dear to their hearts, and want it to be a consistent thread in everything we do in Wellington,” says Mayor Lester, portfolio lead for Arts and Culture.

“We don’t want to replicate other cities around the world, we want to be distinct, and we want to be different. We want to make sure we accentuate what makes Wellington Wellington.”

As part of the Council’s Long-term Plan, it wants to spend almost $111m on strengthening and improvements to the Town Hall, St James Theatre, and the Bond Store – home of the Wellington Museum.

Up to $16m is budgeted for supporting local arts events such as WOW, Visa Wellington On a Plate and the New Zealand Festival.

Councillor Nicola Young, Associate Arts portfolio, says the survey proves what is already known.

“Wellingtonians love the arts – from the big events like the ballet, opera and the Symphony Orchestra, to the independent art galleries in the Cuba Street area,” she says. “Access to the arts is very easy in Wellington because it is compact and there’s a big variety in a small area.”

Wellington arts organiser Sue Paterson says it is very difficult to run a successful arts and culture sector without supporting infrastructure.

“It’s a big issue for a city just how important it really is to have these buildings, whether it’s the Town Hall, the St James Theatre and the Opera House.”

World of Wearable Art chief executive Gisella Carr says Wellington has historically had an excellent track record of understanding the importance of art.

“Councils can create art-driven spaces – they have a number of avenues through which they can influence the importance of the arts.”

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency chief executive Lance Walker says art helps strengthen the capital’s economy.

“Being the creative capital is not just about what’s in a gallery or on stage, but how our creative community helps fuel innovative thinking within the business community.

“Whilst these results are positive for Wellington, we still believe more people should be able to access the arts, and are working with Wellington City Council to open up culture to people from right across our community via the Celebrate Wellington grants initiative.”

Creative New Zealand survey key results:

  • 72 percent of Wellingtonians say national cultural institutions and a diverse and tolerant population with associated events are important to Wellington being the place they want to live (67 percent nationally)
  • About 66 percent think it’s important the Council supports art-based initiatives, which encourage diversity and tolerance. They also want to see it support national events and art in public spaces
  • 65 percent of Wellington residents expressed support for the Council helping young people access arts education
  • Just over 50 percent supported the Council helping encourage new and experimental art works (53 percent), and contemporary Māori, Pasifika and Asian arts and culture (52 percent)
  • 67 percent think helping young people access new technology for creative purposes is important for Wellington’s creative future
  • 81 percent believe creativity is important to Wellington’s identity.