Christchurch has a global reputation for giant murals and avant-garde installations, but the city was able to host a new festival celebrating street art on a much smaller scale.
From penguin portraits to a three-dimensional historic street scene after the earthquake, the city center has been the canvas for dozens of examples of public art.
But there is also a thriving “more intimate” urban art scene.
Artists such as Ghostcat, Lost Boy and Bloom n Grow Gal have quietly decorated Christchurch with drawings, stencils and posters.
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And a viability survey will be launched to see if the city could host the Little Street Art Festival and offer established and new urban artists the chance “to add their work to Ōtautahi Christchurch’s public spaces”.
It comes as Christchurch City Council has received $ 900,000 from a government Covid-19 fund to support the arts, with $ 20,000 awarded to the Watch This Space Trust.
If the festival gets the green light, it could be staged in late 2022 or early 2023 and would be the first for New Zealand.
Art historian Reuben Woods, creative director at Watch This Space, said street art paintings have been transforming cities across New Zealand and the world.
“Large murals have become the decisive force, and that is understandable because they are so impressive.
“But they are just a form of what was historically a much more intimate engagement in the urban landscape.”
Woods, who completed a Ph.D. in graffiti and street art in Christchurch after the 2016 earthquake at the University of Canterbury, said the Little Street Art Festival would be “an accompaniment” to the city’s murals.
“The idea of the festival is to provide a platform to support these practices and reveal that urban art is truly diverse.”
In 2017, the travel guide Christchurch, along with New York, Barcelona, Berlin and London, ranked as one of the world’s street art capitals.
The money from the Cultural Sector Innovation Fund is part of the government’s $ 374 million funding package to help the arts recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Council chief art adviser Kiri Jarden said the money would be used to create paid mentorship across different creative sectors in Christchurch, look at creating cheap study space for visual artists and commissioned paid work for sculptors, designers, artists and writers.
She said the money would help fund the delivery of an art strategy set up by the council in late 2019.
The strategy also has a joint funding of $ 450,000 over the next three years from the Rata Foundation and Creative New Zealand.
Jarden said the money could help Christchurch catch up with the level of art funding received by other cities in New Zealand.
“It’s a lot of money for the art sector in Christchurch, but it’s not a long-term solution yet,” she said.
“We do not have access to or receive the amount of resources that cities like Wellington or Auckland do. We would like to change that a little.
“We want a long life for these artists and whatever they produce.”
Council social worker Jamie Hanton said artists were still struggling after the loss of cheap study places in the center in the 2011 earthquakes in Canterbury.
“That’s what makes Christchurch a unique case in many ways, that so much was lost in the earthquakes, and there has still not been a return to the amount of study space that was present before.”
Jarden said guidance for 10 people in the Christchurch display sector could start early next year.
It was also important that the money was used to order work from Christchurch commercials, she said, so that people start getting paid for “things they are probably doing for free at the moment”.
“We want to make sure people get rewarded and that there are regular opportunities over the next few years.”
Hanton said the new government funding for art in Christchurch was unusual.
“This represents a massive amount of money that has not been present for a while.”
The Innovation Fund also provided funding for a number of creative projects in Christchurch.
Native social change agency, Cross Polynate, raised $ 145,415 to support 25 Pacific commercials in Christchurch, while The Creators’ Room raised $ 172,2105 to expand its initiative for young Christchurch artists to the rest of New Zealand.
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