Muse by Craig Ranapia

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Muse: Indecision 2011: Writing Policy on The Back of a Cocktail Napkin

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    I'm sure this doesn't need to be said, but anyone who's thinking about being a twatcock in the comments will get them turned off.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12352 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Craig, I'm still digesting the Labour one but cant quite work up the stomach for the Nat one yet-
    what appears on the Labour site is waffle/sameas/waffle/delicatehintof substanence/waffle (and this is only for my specialist area.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Just how did you find nationals napkin, when I drill down to this

    I get this
    The page or function you are trying to access is unavailable.

    So I choose another tack. Choose from the drop down menu Arts Culture & heritage
    and get a self satisfied picture of The Hon Christopher Finlayson
    and this a link to his speech on Merchant Navy Day

    Ohhh is that the sound of the off switch

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Steve Curtis,


    The links I posted are to PDF format documents which your browser may find indigestible. I will amend the post to note that.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12352 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,


    but don't expect to find any Arts policy there.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Chaps (and Chap-ettes):

    Can we stipulate that the National Party website isn't exactly user-friendly and move along? Any thoughts on the actual policies, because I'm still struggling to find anything to praise, blame or even snark.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12352 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Nah, there seriously isn’t any policy there: even the National Party’s aim (“we’re going to keep doing betterer!”) could have been written by a primary schoolkid.

    The page space is mostly taken up by a list of “what we did last term”. But even that’s pretty desperate: there’s some (ooh, shiny shiny) film stuff (including prominent credit for “saving the Hobbit”, i.e. throwing money at overseas media corporations) and very little else. The list even includes getting rid of secretarial staff (aka Being More Efficient, because everybody knows artists produce much more work when they also have to do all the legwork of promoting it), and giving some money to the Historic Places Trust (which surely is more about maintenance than development – and an unavoidable expense for any government). There is no sense that any of the actions so far performed were part of any coherent strategy or predetermined policy for the arts -- and no hint of a direction for any future coherent policy either.

    And if I write any more, my comment will be longer than their policy statement. No joke.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1669 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to linger,

    It at least had the grace of brevity. Next time out, could Labour form a working group with relevant stakeholders who can reduce twelve pages of opaque persiflage to one duplex sheet of clear, unaffected English prose? I'd take as pure gravy one solid commitment with a timeline and costings attached.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12352 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Slightly intrigued by National's claim that Labour "[u]sed the arts for political advantage". What's that about?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Clark,

    When we released the policy at the Depot ArtSpace in Devonport today there was considerable excitement for both the Creative Industry Apprenticeships, and the Children's Art Houses.

    Shona Hammond Boys is shortly off to visit the White House, because Obama wants to launch Children's Art Houses there, they are such a fantastic idea. Labour will back them, and get our children and youth's creative talents focussed.

    Creative Industry Apprenticeships will develop our creative talents across Aotearoa. It builds on and develops PACE, which has been run down under National. It helps develop NZ artists so that they can be an important part of contributing to the NZ economy - and the arts do contribute significantly, regardless of how much they are ignored by National (with actors specifically punished by being removed from the immigrant work rule that you have to try and find a local person first to fill a role - that will be reversed by Labour).

    The Regional Museums Fund will be expanded to allow more funding of regional arts infrastructure - so art is not restricted to Wellington.

    How National can fit a policy that covers the many and varied sectors of film, music, literature, fine art, performing arts, museums, archives, historic places, culture etc on the back of a napkin astounds me.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Ben Clark,

    Some questions in lieu of wading through a pdf:

    If I’m 18 years old and want to be a painter, how would the apprenticeship work? Do I need to go to art school first? Who would I be apprenticed to? Do I need to find someone willing to take me on? And why would they do that?

    And I very much dislike the line about ‘develop[ing] NZ artists so that they can be an important part of contributing to the NZ economy’. For quite some time Labour has tried to justify arts funding this way. But what if all the studies showed that investing in art had a negligible effect in economic terms? Would that then be justification for eliminating art?

    I submit that the value of art is not economic at all. A society without art would be like an insect colony. Art’s value is quite separate from economics. A focus on those arts that provide an easily measurable economic return, I suggest, is completely wrong-headed.

    Re: the Regional Museums Fund – you talk about investing in infrastructure, but do not mention anything about maintaining and enhancing the national collections for current and future generations. What is Labour’s policy on collecting paintings for the nation?

    You can have all the infrastructure and training schemes you like, but to make good paintings a painter needs to be able to look at a wide range of good art first. At the moment, the dealer galleries, unfunded and going it alone, are way ahead of the public galleries on that score. What’s Labour going to do about that?

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Ben Clark,

    - so art is not restricted to Wellington.

    Splutter, bluster, fart...
    Hey, I don't know a lot about Art but I know it doesn't all come from Wellington. Of all the Artists I know not one of them comes from down there, mind you, I do live in Auckland.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    I like that National name-dropped Peter Jackson. They've clearly put a lot of thought into their policy. Or into writing buzz-words that people will respond well to.

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Clark, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    Places like the fabulous Depot in Devonport will be offering Apprenticeships. Collaborating with new artists can be inspiring and helpful for the old professionals as well as for those learning the techniques – and most Artisans like to give back and see their field thrive. In the case of the Depot it will no doubt give them more to display too.
    Bigger institutions will no doubt have apprenticeships as well – it’s not hard to see how film studios, NZSO, RNZ Ballet, theatre companies etc could use them.

    I disagree that art has no economic value – try auctioning a Picasso! But I do agree its main value is not economic – society would not be particularly ‘human’ without it.

    But it still needs funding – so where we can get money from it rather than funding it from other sources, surely that is much better? Besides our creative industries, however ignored by this government, do in reality provide a lot of economic value. Look at Lord of the Rings, the even bigger Auckland film industry, our advertising industry, even how Naked and Famous are doing in Germany right now…

    To write off that economic side to it is to devalue it as well.

    National collections, from the pdf:

    Labour will continue the work to establish a Collections Council for the identification of collections of national significance and objects of significance, and ensure that regions that meet air and temperature standards and safety guidelines will have access to those materials for display to the public to increase the community knowledge, enjoyment and appreciation of our kiwi heritage. We will further develop partnerships with local authorities, businesses and NGOs.

    Over time and as resources allow, Labour will:
    - Develop a Centre for Arts Conservation at Te Papa and agree on a nation-wide approach for taonga and art restoration including the establishment of a national funding mechanism for conservation of taonga and art held regionally.
    - Establish a New Zealand-wide distributed national collection to increase community knowledge, enjoyment and appreciation of New Zealand’s heritage through collection holdings.

    Steve – Artists are indeed everywhere – which is why funding needs to be everywhere not just central, but into the regions.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Ben Clark,

    With all due disrespect, if I was still drinking and took a shot every time "over time and as circumstances allow' bad touched my eye balls I'd be dead of alcohol poisoning.

    I'm saying this in a spirit of tough love (and wearing my Auckland Film Soc secretary hat in a personal capacity as Chris Dempsey would say) but I would not put my name - or my organisation's credibility - to a funding application or project pitch so heavy with kludgy management jargon, and no solid or measurable commitments.

    Not good enough, Ben. And I'll say the same to Chris Finlayson if he drops by.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12352 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    To be honest, the Labour Party's arts policy is kinda embarrassing. It's a hodge-podge of special interests, and pet desires. (I mean, I fully support a memorial to dead sailors, but that is not a manifesto commitment.) There may be good stuff in there, but it is lost amongst general waffle and repetition. There isn't any principle underlying any of it. It is just a shopping list.

    There's also far too many things caveated with ``over time and as resources allow''.

    At least National let you know their vision for the arts: private sector funded, cuts to civil service, and lots and lots for the film industry. I honestly don't have a clue what Labour's vision is.

    Edited to add: who the fuck let `seamen' go out in a policy? Gender-neutral language isn't just for funsies people.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ben Clark,

    regions that meet air and temperature standards

    there goes Rotorua then

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19382 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Ben Clark,

    Let's take one specific example of how a narrow economic focus on arts funding affects things.

    As I understand it, a gallery like the City Gallery in Wellington is funded by various sources, most of it public money from central government and the city council, supplemented by sponsorship. Now, I'd imagine each of these funding sources wants something in return for their dosh. The people spending tax and rate money need to show that it's been well spent. They need what I think is called 'measurable outcomes'.

    For something like the City Gallery, as far as I can tell, those 'measurable outcomes' are simply bums through the door. You pay some keen art history student peanuts to sit there with a clicker, then you go 'Look! This exhibition that cost $X00,000 had a X% successful outcome [against projected figures].'

    As a result, we get bollocks shows. Shows that are intentionally designed to be innocuous and populist, and to easily fit into pre-existing narratives of national identity. And, I ask you, what is the point of that?

    The measures that the politicians have set in place produce perverse outcomes. Ones that are papered over by the people trying to give the pollies what they want and still keep a modicum of self-respect with a load of crap about 'challenging' art. Black = white.

    In short: your answer gives me the shits.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I don't have much to contribute to this specific debate, but I think it would be great if over the next three weeks PAS regular bloggers, and various people via Speaker, drawing on their expertise and the hivemind, could poke at various policies across the parties.

    I pretty much know how I'm going to vote, but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't look twice at a National Party policy if someone who knew something about the field was to go through and give some of it a tick.

    I'd happily do a tertiary education post.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6241 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi,

    I’m really surprised. Where are the robust defences of policies people passionately believe in?

    Or do their promoters not passionately believe in them? Are they just a hodgepodge of vague phrases designed to appeal to particular interest groups? Which is it? Style or substance?

    Where is the defence of public gallery programmes and funding models? Come on people! Or does no-one give a fuck?

    I’m a little worried I’ve killed this conversation dead. If so, sorry. Oops. (Oh ok, not just me then. On ya, Kyle!)

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    I'm reading ya loud and clear DCB. It's an area (arts funding) I'd love to dive into...but it's a case of, I could say, but I wont.
    As for their policies, when I got a fake 100.00 bill in the mail from Labour ( I am next door to Glen Innes, AKA, G.I. where I worked in factories as a yoof)...I despaired.
    Tamaki is a weird electorate for many many reasons and you know none of those so called promise policies address the 3 biggies where I live, none at all.
    Apart from the fact that should I meet any of them in the street (have met Brash, and Helen) I wouldn't know how to say politely...are you for freakin' real?

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I don't know. I think there was a conversation on Twitter about the Labour policy --- Cheryl Bernstein & Hamish Keith pretty ho-hum all round. The Barrs have a decent summary.

    I think it is probably fair to say that arts policies are not the most heatedly debated policies in the world, and I would be very surprised if most members or MPs could tell you what was in the arts policy. It is a backwater, and so very easily captured.

    The Greens (a) use the word secretariat, and (b) have a bizarre obsession with community art.

    All round, thank god for the fact that none of these things will ever actually happen, and the fact that the ministry probably has sane people who will calm down the crazy.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to merc,

    I’m reading ya loud and clear DCB. It’s an area (arts funding) I’d love to dive into…but it’s a case of, I could say, but I wont.

    As Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston shouted together at the end of one of their songs:

    'Long live the independents!'

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    I think it is probably fair to say that arts policies are not the most heatedly debated policies in the world, and I would be very surprised if most members or MPs could tell you what was in the arts policy. It is a backwater, and so very easily captured.

    It's not play money. There are large amounts of dollars involved, and how they are spent directly affects the culture as a whole and the work that gets made.

    The country's arts infrastructure is all connected, through public funding. The priorities of that funding directly affect the approach that art schools, artist-run spaces, public galleries, and museums take. What gets taught, what gets shown, what gets collected influences what gets made. Obviously.

    It actually matters. I think quite a lot.

    I reckon the best work in this country is shown in a handful of dealer galleries (but then I'm clearly biased, and yet where did this bias come from?). And it is a real struggle making it. None of my friends have it easy. We're up against it.

    The funding priorities are wrong. They encourage careerists, and discourage good artists.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Friday and all, mildly related,

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

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