The Christchurch Arts Precinct has been lifted back onto the tracks.
The lifting operation, courtesy of the Government, rescued a project which was fast resembling a major train wreck. The glow of satisfaction amongst local and national politicians - tinged with some relief - was tangible
How and when the arts precinct will perform is still a matter for conjecture but with the wheels oiled courtesy of an injection of government finance, we have movement.
"The arts are back" read exultant headlines. But had they ever left? I think not.
There's now a concerted cultural stirring beneath the physical and psychological detritus left by the earthquakes. Small green shoots are pushing up into the daylight. There's a subtle feeling of energy and initiative in the air. It's still a fragile growth but if sustained and supported, I suggest that it's capable of producing a fine harvest.
The encouraging factor in my metaphoric philosophising is that much of the cultural and artistic growth lies in the hands of a new generation of young artists and entrepreneurs who are adding their own blend of practical initiative and vision to the mix.
Consider one young Cantabrian and an idea which is fast becoming reality. Armed with a bachelor of design degree from Toi Whakaari, Josh Foley has developed a business model which will see work by six local artists emerging in an online gallery featuring limited editions of 25 silkscreen prints.
Armed with the brand name Rubble, the mix of emerging and established artists will offer works on A2 fine art paper for $160 each with a percentage of sales paid to the individual artist.
On first sight it's hardly an original idea. Art has gone online with enthusiasm. But even in its embryonic form, you sense that Rubble has a slightly different geology. It sets out to present cutting edge contemporary art from young artists who might otherwise go unnoticed. Nor is this mass produced online schlock art but something Foley believes will appeal to collectors with an eye for works on paper which reflect new visions.
Working with Enrich, another recently established Christchurch enterprise designed to connect artists with local businesses and resources, Foley is a firm believer in forging mutually beneficial partnerships based on expertise, knowledge and creativity.
It took him two months to make contact with artists he believed represent the right mix of talent and quality. It was a slow process as he relied on assiduous networking and what he describes as "internet stalking" to lead him to individuals whose art matched the vision.
Once the original idea had been distilled into a workable business model, Foley and his partners confronted the equally challenging task of locating a silk screen process which would produce high quality prints. This accomplished, Rubble is now poised to be officially launched on July 4 with a pop- up exhibition scheduled for July 5 and 6.
Rubble is only part of a work in progress throughout Christchurch. Spring might be some way down the track but it's obvious that in the hands of a new generation of young Cantabrians, the arts are slowly blossoming. Hopefully they are now moving from temporary feel good creations into something tangible and truly enduring.
As others have observed, "our normal is the surprising."
Long may we continue to be surprised.
Rubble will be launched on July 4 in Shop 4, New Regent Street followed by an exhibition on July 5 and 6. Contact Josh Foley, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Enrich see enrichnz.com
- The Press