So how is the future of arts and culture shaping up for Invercargill? Looking at the response to discussing this to date I am concerned that there is relatively little local knowledge on the subject! Of all the Invercargill City Council candidates I can report that the incumbents have largely been unresponsive e.g. have not responded to my invitations to submit a statement or be interviewed - exception to date: Rebecca Amunsden. In terms of mayoral candidates, I received no response from Tim Shadbolt, Karen Arnold replied with one sentence and Tom Conroy provided a statement and is attending an interview on Friday. So are there any big ideas emerging so far - well unfortunately not. It is evident that a number of candidates are afraid to voice an opinion one way or the other and prefer to simply state that they are supportive of arts and culture in the city. As council candidates I am interested in what they plan to achieve with regard to arts and culture while in council rather than in personal belief systems.
Some emerging trends in conversations would indicate that the Renew Newcastle concept (http://renewnewcastle.org/) has resurfaced again. Check out Marcus Westbury's vision here: https://vimeo.com/15759471. It is a feel good idea but in practical terms there is a lot involved in making this happen. Could it help revitalise the CBD - without question but this is also a resource and labour intensive process. For further reference about what is involved see Renew Newcastle's 'Copy the Model' page which many cities have been inspired by e.g. Renew Adelaide, Renew Townsville, Made in Geelong and Pop-up Parramatta.
The Empty Spaces Toolkit section provides information on the project and advice for establishing similar schemes. For those not aware SIT Arts students have been exhibiting in empty/alternative spaces around Invercargill's CBD for the past 5 years as part of the Southsure Emerging Art Awards. So does the Renew Newcastle model have the potential to be Invercargill's next big idea - well yes but the sceptic in me says this has been talked about in numerous meetings and forums since I arrived in Invercargill six years ago and very little has happened towards actioning this to date....I live in hope!