Arts in Action

We live in a fractured and fragmented society where disparities between prosperity and well-being are increasingly evident, where our planet and its natural resources are under threat and where a globalised environment alienates us from a sense of place, belonging and identity.

The arts provide an independent forum and medium through which it is possible to analyse and address issues of concern to humanity and our planet, and in doing so, to celebrate our power to act and to speak out. The arts are a final bastion of freedom.

Arts in Action is created by Depot Artspace, an open and inclusive creative community in Devonport, Auckland.



NATIONAL LIBRARY OF NEW ZEALAND CULLS 600,000 BOOKS: DOES THIS DECISION CONSTITUTE CULTURAL VANDALISM?



We have observed with growing consternation as the huge public opprobrium regarding the removal of 600,000 books from the National Library has been ignored and an even worse travesty has occurred which is the Library’s decision to hand over the books to an online firm described as “internet pirates”. ‘A press release was sent out by the Library on July 13. It was headlined, “National Library signs historic agreement with Internet Archive.” Internet Archive is based in San Francisco and currently the subject of a major international lawsuit, accused of piracy.

Steve Braunias, https://www.newsroom.co.nz/the-national-library-loses-the-plot-again

Friends of the Earth Director, PEN NZ member and Cultural Icons Patron, Denys Trussell has sent the following letter to the Minister of Internal Affairs which provides a detailed and eloquent outline of the process, issues and implications of this decision.

Friends of the Earth Letter To Jan Tinetti  (click here to read letter)




Indigenous Ecology and Arts Wananga



An Indigenous Ecology and Arts Wananga was developed last year with Lance Cablk (Restoring Takarunga Hauraki), Jermaine Reihana and Linda Blincko (Depot Artspace).

This has come into fruition with Martin Law Painter of Paradise’s recent exhibition at Depot Artspace, ongoing workshops in schools and now the upcoming lantern workshops in early July with master carver Natanahira Pona. We look forward to more opportunities to keep building on projects that encompass the arts and ecology.

Below is more information about the Indigenous Ecology and Arts Wananga from lead person Lance Cablk:

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Suicide Awareness



Depot Artspace has received recognition for its work on suicide over the past 20 years and has been invited by the Museum of Sepulchral Culture in Kassel, Germany to contribute a paper to its suicide awareness publication, to be launched on International Suicide Awareness day, September 10. This coincides with an exhibition they will hold on suicide awareness – ‘Let’s Talk  About It’.

 

This exhibition will use examples from art and cultural history, medicine, the humanities and social sciences to provide information, suggestions, challenges, and opportunities to reflect on how society and individuals deal with suicide. The publication as well as an extensive event programme will accompany the exhibition in cooperation with other institutions, associations and societies. The aim is to promote public communication on suicide.

 

Depot Artspace has been mentioned as a partner in this project sepulkralmuseum.de/EN/exhibitions/special-exhibitions/suizid–lets-talk-about-it

 

The Museum for Sepulchral Culture is dedicated to the issues of dying, death, burial, mourning and remembrance. It is the only independent institution committed exclusively to cultural and scientific standards that deals with the entire spectrum of the so-called Last Things. The museum encourages its visitors to view the often taboo general theme of “death” with expertise, research and communication, with understanding, perseverance and humour.’

 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE

 




SUSTAINABILITY: THE ENDURING COMMUNITY



Sustainability has become a prominent buzzword, which over the past year or so has been applied to almost every sphere of life. It has become a prominent means of promoting and selling products, from travel to fashion, with environmentalists feeling this mass appropriation violates the true intent of the term.

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Artist Resale Royalties



 

The burgeoning secondary arts market has suddenly mushroomed since Covid 19, with an increasing number of auctions turning over millions of dollars’ worth of sales. In one week alone there can be three art auctions taking place, from iconic art works by significant Aotearoa NZ artists to works accessible to new collectors. Many of the artists whose works sell well at auction, are still living and most are still practising, and the fact is that none of the funds from sales accrues to the artists whose work is being sold.

WHAT IS THE VISUAL ARTISTS RESALE ROYALTIES SCHEME?

Visual artists are entitled to a royalty payment each time an original artwork is resold on the secondary art market. The scheme is also referred to as Droit de suite (French for “right to follow”) where it originated. The scheme mirrors the royalties received by other artists, including composers and writers, when their work is reprinted or used in radio, television or film.

 

Artists Resale Royalties first became law in 1920 in France and to date around 80 countries have such a right. Droit de suite was created in France following the sale of Jean-Francois Millet‘s 1858 painting, the Angélus, in 1889 at the art collection sale of Eugène Secrétan, a French copper industrialist. The owner of the painting made a huge profit from this sale, whereas the family of the artist lived in poverty. Many artists, and their families, had suffered from the war, and droit de suite was a means to remedy socially difficult situations.

 

THE NEW ZEALAND STORY:

It is now 13 years since the Ministry of Culture and Heritage (MCH) produced a discussion paper on Artists Resale Royalties. When first surveyed in NZ in 2007, 65% of respondents supported the plan.

Artist Resale Royalties were introduced to Parliament as the Copyright (Artists’ Resale Right) Amendment Bill in May 2008. It stated artists will receive a 5% royalty payment on sales of NZD $500 or more, each time an original artwork is commercially sold through an auction house, gallery or professional dealer. Resale royalties on artworks will be due throughout the artist’s lifetime plus 50 years after the artist’s death.[1] In March 2009, the Government Committee reported that the Copyright (Artists’ Resale Right) Amendment Bill was not passed.[2] The issue of Resale Royalties for artists eventually disappeared. Since 2007, an additional 20 countries have introduced resale royalties.

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Survey for Creative Employment Programme




 

Image: Revolution Creative & Artslab at employment expo

SHAPING CREATIVE EMPLOYMENT IN AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND

In May 2020, during Covid-19 Lockdown, the Government announced $7. 9 million to support creative job seekers, building on the most successful aspects of the former Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment (PACE) programme.

At Depot Artspace we decided to develop a survey that asked creatives across all practices what they wanted from a such a programme.

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Re-Framing the Future



 

DEPOT ARTSPACE: REFRAMING THE FUTURE

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― Buckminster Fuller

Covid 19 has catapulted us into the unknown. We are trying to make sense of the future and the political, economic and social landscape provides no clear or recognisable signposts. The horizon is so far indistinct and generates insecurity and trepidation. For many of us certainty is more important than possibility, even though it’s littered with the casualties of a flawed system.

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SUBMISSION TO THE DEVONPORT-TAKAPUNA LOCAL BOARD PLAN 2020



A Face to the Future: Depot Artspace Perspective on the Creative Community Post Covid-19

This submission to the Local Board’s Annual Plan was prepared before Covid-19 required NZers to Lock down, leaving many community organisations and small businesses uncertain of, and in many instances fearful for their future. It has been reiterated by government and business leaders that there will be a ‘new normal’, although its form has not yet been described. However, prior to Lockdown Depot Artspace had been considering its direction with regard to the changing shape of the creative sector both internationally and locally, in all spheres of practice, employment, service delivery and audience engagement.

Our submission raises these issues as we contemplate a more relevant, responsive and subsequently viable future which is actually synchronistic with the future following the current crisis. In this submission, we address the efficacy of a local focus, built on Devonport’s rich early history, its creative whakapapa, small business infrastructure and strong sense of identity.

This full submission can be downloaded here: LOCAL BOARD Plan Submission 2020




LETTER BY JOHN MINTO



WHEN A CRISIS SIGNALS THE NEED FOR CHANGE

 

We have included this letter on the Arts In Action page, because we believe that alternative views by  people with a long history of involvement in creating a more equitable society need to be given a platform.  John Minto has a significant and respected reputation for actively and passionately working for social justice in Aotearoa.

 

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.  The world needs a new vision of what is possible, ‘that can galvanize people around the world to achieve higher levels of cooperation in areas of common concern and shared destiny.” Buckminster Fuller circa 1965

Nigel Brown. 2012  Exhibited at the Depot during the exhibition, ‘Sum of the Parts’

 

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MEASURING THE TRUE WEALTH OF OUR COUNTRY: A GENUINE PROGRESS INDICATOR FOR AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND



 

Depot Artspace is a socially conscious creative hub. We employ the transformative capacity of the arts to engage, inspire, and challenge the community. We are guided by the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi: partnership, protection and participation.

In 2006, Depot Artspace hosted a meeting with Dr Ron Colman, world authority on progress indicators. Dr Colman is universally recognised for his work on a GPI (genuine progress indicator). He is head of GPI Atlantic, which created Nova Scotia’s Genuine Progress Index and is currently an adviser to the Royal Government of Bhutan on maximizing the country’s Gross National Happiness.

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ARTS NATION AOTEAROA: DEVELOPING A CREATIVE COUNTRY



Much as I’m opposed to over-utilised, populist aphorisms there’s one that’s particularly pertinent to our previous posting on advocacy and activism. It’s ‘walking the talk’ and the piece by Jermaine Reihana is an example of this as he describes Depot Artspace exhibition Te Kuia Moko, prints of the lost paintings by Harry Sangl. Rather than continuously engage in a fruitless search for the works, Depot with the invaluable assistance of Soar Print produced prints of the originals in honour of painter Harry Sangl’s 97th birthday.

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ADVOCACY AND ACTION: GRASS ROOTS ACTIVISM FOR CHANGE IN THE CREATIVE SECTOR



Peace posters workshop based on Nigel Brown’s peace painting

 

These days advocates outnumber activists and nowhere is this more evident than in the current creative sector. Academics, bureaucrats, politicians and other self-ascribed experts jostle for a place as harbingers of change but doing does not seem part of their change vocabulary. Hence, the wheels of progress move exceedingly slow. The plethora of reports produced over many years, decades even, about the same identified issues attest to this. As grassroots activists we advocate for a recalibration of the  bureaucratic machine.

A couple of treadmills Depot Artspace finds itself returning to are creative internships and artists’ resale royalties. In both instances 12 years have ticked by since they featured on the political radar.

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KEEPING PACE: WHY THE REINTRODUCTION OF PATHWAYS TO ARTS AND CULTURAL EMPLOYMENT (PACE) WILL HELP SAVE THE CREATIVE SECTOR



It’s now over a year since the Labour led government was voted in, with an agenda for the arts and culture which created a lot of optimism. At Depot Artspace we were particularly enthusiastic about the reintroduction of PACE and the initiation of creative apprenticeships/internships, especially after the drought in support for the creative sector over the previous decade.

Depot has offered PACE since early 2002, although in 2010 we were unable to apply the acronym to our programme, changing the name to ArtsLab. Before that, we ran our own creative industries mentoring scheme for 3 years, funded by J. R. McKenzie Trust (Arts Incubator Mentoring Scheme, AIMS) for which we won a Civic Award.

 

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STATE OF THE ARTS: CHANGES IN THE ART WORLD 2018



The Depot has been in the art world for twenty-one years now and continues to remain sustainable by being perspicacious, predictive and proactive.  We have been researching the changes in the art world.

STATE OF THE ARTS

We first discussed the state of the arts in 2003. We explored the notion that an increasing preoccupation with fiscal matters led to the commodification of almost everything; that our society was one where, as Oscar Wilde famously observed, “everything has a price and nothing has value.”   Included now in this commodified world, with its concomitant characteristics, including conspicuous consumption and investment potential, are the arts.

We noted that the shameful sale of Colin McCahon’s “Storm Warning” in 1998 by Victoria University to a private collection presaged in both the act and the substance of the work some of these major social trends, which finally filtered into the NZ art scene.  McCahon bequeathed the work with the expectation it would remain on public display. The text of “Storm Warning” prophetically read:

‘YOU MUST FACE THE FACT The final age of this world is to be a time of troubles. Men will love nothing but money and self.  They will be arrogant, boastful and abusive, with no respect for parents, no gratitude, no piety, no natural affections, they will be implacable in their hatreds. PAUL TO TIMOTHY.’

 

Storm Warning, Colin McCahon 1980 synthetic polymer paint, unstretched canvas

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DEAR BARACK OBAMA: A LESSON FOR LEADERS



When Barack Obama took office he committed to reading 10 letters a day from the 10,000 he received daily from the American people, becoming the first president to put such a deliberate focus on constituent correspon­dence. ‘Late each afternoon, around five o’clock, a selection would be sent up from the post room to the Oval Office. The “10 LADs”, as they came to be known – for “10 letters a day” – would circulate among senior staff and the stack would be added to the back of the briefing book the president took with him to the resi­dence each night. He answered some by hand and wrote notes on others for the writing team to answer, and on some he scribbled “save”.’

 

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Grassroots and Change



Kuini Karanui speaks at the Turangawaewae: Sense of Place exhibition at Depot Artspace

‘Grassroots’ is defined as ‘community-engaged’; grassroots are the people in and of a community, as contrasted with those at the top, ‘the leadership or elite of a private or government organisation.’

Depot Artspace is proudly grass roots. From this point it keeps an ear to the ground, the place where people stand – their turangawaewae – and from which, if nurtured, things grow and are sustained.

Over nearly more than two decades, the Depot has developed facilities, services and new initiatives that respond to the needs and interests of the creative community, both local and beyond. These include: galleries; recording and rehearsal studios; ArtsLab, the biggest professional development programme for artists nationally; creative internships research and development; Cultural Icons, a filmed interview series (78 interviews so far) with people who have been significant in the cultural landscape; Depot Press, including ‘The Vernacularist’ journal, W’akaputanga, Turangawaewae/Sense of Place and LOUD magazine.

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GRASS ROOTS ARTS: VISION, RESOURCEFULNESS AND RESILIENCE



Arts and culture have taken a bad beating across the country this year. The following is a litany of losses, both imminent and already undertaken:

  • The closure of the Elam Arts School and School of Architecture Libraries
  • The dire under-funding of Auckland Art Gallery resulting in threats of closure or charging entry fees
  • The cutting of Te Papa collections staff
  • The closure of a number of regional galleries including Manawa, Rotorua Museum and Southland Museum and Art Gallery
  • The threatened cutting of an art history course at Southland Institute of Technology
  • The downsizing of NZ’s biggest architectural firm Jasmax, with significant staff cuts

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The Photographer as Nature’s Friend



It’s no secret that our native flora and fauna are under threat of extinction. From the kauri to the dotterel the extent of loss to Aotearoa of living taonga is heart breaking.

 

A report produced in 2017 by the Ministry for the Environment documents the profound effects on the bird life of Aotearoa and in doing so offers up a challenge to reverse this potential devastation.

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Vision and values in Auckland’s urban design: Shaping a liveable city



Arts in Action envisions a society enriched by the values that influence decision making across all disciplines and forms of practice.

Creative thinking is at the nub of social change because it offers alternative ways of viewing what is often regarded as fixed and non-negotiable, being attached to a dominant ideology.

 

Richard Reid is a visionary architect whose values inform and shape his work. When he returned to Aotearoa in 1997 he added a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture to his degree in Architecture in order to understand and integrate into his practice the natural and social environments of Aotearoa. He established his own practice in 2001 and continues to actively contribute to community and environmental groups, in particular the Auckland Volcanic Cones Society (2003-07) and Ngataringa Bay Society (2007-2011).

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Life, Art and Community: A Sunday with Auckland City Mission artists at Depot Artspace



The Depot Artspace ethos embraces the arts community in all its aspects and attributes. The arts have a universal voice with which all are able to speak. This month we have been honoured to host the artists of the Auckland City Mission whose works are showcasing at the Depot Gallery in their second exhibition.

Clare Caldwell, Visual arts Tutor with the Mission, spent Sunday at the Depot Gallery along with the exhibiting artists, enjoying kōrero (conversation) with interested visitors, and sharing their hearty lunch.

Here is Clare’s colourful story of the day.




Arts in Action: The transformative power of creative leadership



Inspiring creative leadership has the capacity to transform a workplace, a community, a region or a country. The creative mind can provide new insight into ongoing issues that are continually plied with the same unsuccessful solutions. A few inspirational leaders have shown the significant difference that innovative solutions are able to make and Depot Artspace has been fortunate to take part in their initiatives.

“I have wanted to meet Jason Smith from 2011, the time I encountered his work as Senior Policy Advisor for the Ministry of Culture and Heritage where he produced a cultural map of Auckland which was initially displayed on the Auckland Council website.” Read More…




Walking, one sense at a time #smell



Our latest addition to Arts in Action is a piece by Iryna Zamuruieva that we received from our call out for submissions. Iryna is an artist, arts activist, researcher and project manager, who has developed an urban walking experience project for the CBD neighbourhood. She has designed a series of walks that will encourage the participants to re-experience city in a playful way. Her first sense-walk took place on Saturday 2 June in the Auckland CBD.

“I would like to believe there is another way – a deeply attentive one, the one where the smells are sniffed, sounds heard, textures touched, and tastes are tasted. Walking this way transforms the city space from a transit zone where a route may be just a way from one destination to the other, into a place where a different kind of experience is co-created, different kind of relationships with material or abstract things are made and maybe even curious questions about the things are emerge“…read more…

Photo credit: Iryna Zamuruieva




Standing the test of time and integrity: PACE/ArtsLab



Well-known and widely quoted politicians are often haunted by a past of broken promises which competing parties and mischievous reporters are wont to exploit. George Bush’ famous “watch my lip…no new taxes” is such an example, never to be forgotten or lived down.

If there’s someone who can’t be faulted when it comes to standing by their commitment, especially in the creative sector which is often under-represented and overlooked, it’s Helen Clark….Read More…

Photo credit: Fairfax Media https://www.radionz.co.nz/programmes/the-9th-floor/story/201842639/the-commander-helen-clark




Missing the Mark: The choice of locations for sculptures honouring women’s suffrage in Aotearoa New Zealand.



This year, 2018, marks the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.

While Council is honouring this significant event, we are bemused by their omission of Devonport as a site for a commemorative sculpture since Devonport has been recorded as the first place women voted in Aotearoa, and from 2013 local women have been advocating for a sculpture here. Read More…




The continuing Auckland University Library debacle: Why it’s such an important debate



Since the shocking announcement last month that Auckland University was about to burn books in its specialist libraries there has been a deluge of collective opprobrium at what amounts to an outrageous attack on democratic values and represents the zenith of philistinism.

Professor Stuart McCutcheon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, infers that the objections are misguided, unnecessarily disputatious and tantamount to hysteria in his recent response to the issue in the NZ Herald, April 30, 2018. Read more…

Greer Twiss centre, Peter Siddell and Richard Killeen. Photographer Gil Hanly




Reflections on the implications of size: Pt 1 Small is Beautiful



Why is small beautiful when everything promoted as powerful, spectacular and worthy of respect in society – motor vehicles, buildings, personal appendages, bank balances – seems to mock the statement? Super yachts, super powers and, more lately, super cities all proclaim the glory of size. Read More…




Save the Arts, Our Last Bastion of Freedom



The Depot has a sibling arts centre in Rawene, comprising gallery, café and bookstore, Erewhon Secondhand Quality Books. We travel between places as often as time allows, to pick up and drop off artwork as part of a creative exchange, and to restock the bookshelves.

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Eating Big Fish



In the giant ocean small fish swim more safely in schools. There is no desire amongst them to draw attention to their presence as personalities; it would more than likely mean danger, the possibility of being picked off by creatures larger and more predisposed to mischief.

Better to live in a less self-interested manner; in making sure that survival for everyone, not just a privileged few, is easy. Standing out is not an issue for small fish. Read More…




Liberation Arts and its place in Peace Making



Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964)

Being nuclear free is a defining component of New Zealand identity, celebrated by cities across the country who have adopted peace city status. What a fantastic characteristic to know ourselves, and for the world to know us by!

It is a bold declaration for cities to make because commitment is necessary to bear the fruits of peace. Commemoration is great, and reflection also, but action is essential. Read more…




Liberation Arts and the Creative Revolution



“The essence of a revolution is the direct intervention of the masses in the political life of the nation. It represents a radical break with the normal routine of existence, where the masses leave the key decisions affecting their lives in the hands of the powers that be. Such a break only occurs at a point when the majority draws the conclusion that the existing order is incompatible with their very existence. A revolution is a situation where the masses take their destiny into their own hands.”

Alan Woods and Jorge Martin in “Revolution in Bolivia” 2005

Revolutions are usually messy things and in a ‘civilised’ society not the sort of activity one wants to be involved in, unless it’s a sanitized misrepresentation of the term in which technology or some other corporate phenomenon is promoted as a mass movement that changes our lives.

But this has little to do with being driven by the masses; usually the masses are further manipulated into believing that they are the major beneficiaries of whatever has been sold to them. Read more…