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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.

Books are a big part of this community’s creative hub. The room in which I am writing looks across the road to Rawene’s Community Library housed in the old courthouse out back of which is a police lock-up that maintains the same sense of Spartan sequestration from the 1860’s when it was built.

There’s an elegant irony about the current occupancy of this building, because books, and our easy access to them are a significant aspect of freedom, something we have come to take for  granted over time; at least until it is threatened.

Then suddenly horror and opprobrium beset us, such as when we read that books are likely to be culled from specialist libraries at Auckland University. We have been assured that the books will not be burnt, but – before we uncork the bubbly – shredded instead. Of course the means of disposable are irrelevant to the deceased, and to all who protest at such wanton disrespect for the cultural products of civilisation.

And in Auckland City as the visual arts are dealt this similar savage blow, so sport arises triumphant, its centerpiece to be the staging of the Americas Cup in the city’s CBD.

Of sport, world-renowned linguist Noam Chomsky says it keeps us in readiness for war; aggressive opposition, strategic moves, following orders, even camaraderie built on overcoming adversaries are all of it associated weaponry. We’re in a society where truculence is part of the fabric of post-Obama politics and we are in desperate need of antidote.

So, as Auckland’s Supercity moves to expunge arts and culture from its annual agenda we appeal to everyone who values freedom to stand up for the arts, for the engaged, reflective, creative mind is the last bastion of freedom.

Photo credit: Save UoA Fine Arts Library from Closing Facebook page.

Author: Linda Blincko (Creative Director)

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