WELLINGTON'S NEWSPAPER, THE DOMINION, DOESN'T REACH MY CORNER OF THE WORLD SO I MISSED THIS ARTICLE FROM LAST SATURDAY'S EDITION
Jafas claim the culture crown
DAVE BURGESS - The Dominion Post Saturday, 21 February 2009
It's enough to have Wellington's theatre-goers and art lovers choking on their lattes - Auckland is claiming the title of creative capital of New Zealand.
A comparison between the two cities, conducted by Auckland-centric magazine Metro, claims the City of Sails has dethroned the capital as the country's hotbed of culture.
Auckland had a higher proportion of people working in the creative sector, more cultural institutions and more events, its research says.
A day after Auckland Regional Council was savaged for losing $1.79 million bringing David Beckham to its city an event that had earlier sold out in Wellington the northerners boasted that their events are of a higher quality, and attract bigger audiences, than the capital.
Metro editor Bevan Rapson said: "We thought it was time to show that the old stereotypes just don't fit any more.
"Wellington is rightly known for the people in funny costumes at the Sevens rugby, but it shouldn't be seen as the nation's cultural hub."
But Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast was absolutely, positively underwhelmed by the claim. "I find it really interesting that Auckland's point of reference is Wellington. We are not interested in doing that. Our point of reference is getting iconic arts and culture events to our city."
That strategy had led to most Kiwis acknowledging Wellington as the cultural capital, she said.
"More than 60 per cent of people in a nationwide survey said Wellington was the arts and culture capital of New Zealand."
Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said Wellington was teeming with creative types.
"We are talking about Wellington and its Oscar and Grammy winners versus Auckland's Shortland Street stars."
Read the rest here.
It's a shame that Metro had to frame its story within that tired Auckland v Wellington issue, because the story is actually about something much more interesting: why Aucklanders don't feel that they're living in a (not "the" but "a") creative city. And why Wellingtonians have been successfully persuaded that they do.
I can't believe that Kerry Prendergast and the Dom Post took Metro's bait like this. Metro's argument is simply based on numbers: Auckland is at least three times bigger than greater Wellington and Christchurch, so there is more of everything. More galleries, more plays, more actors, more publishing companies. How screamingly obvious! You could say the same about London vs Manchester, but what would that prove? That one city is bigger than another? It wouldn't prove anything else.
Good on Creative NZ for ensuring that creative work happens elsewhere -- and I notice that Metro didn't try to make a case for there being more painters and writers in Auckland than Wellington and the South Island, because that would be erroneous. Rather than moving everything north, as the likes of Hamish Keith would suggest, we should be trying to resist the inexorable commercial pull of Auckland.
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