Homeless arts organisations have found refuge at CPIT’s Faculty of Creative Industries in a collaborative project with Creative New Zealand (CNZ) that has established a vibrant new creative hub on the edge of the cordoned CBD.
Christchurch Arts Festival, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Christchurch City Choir are moving into offices alongside the Buskers Festival, SCAPE, the Body Festival and others at CPIT’s Madras Street campus. These arts organisations’ buildings are all either inside the civil defence cordon or are too damaged to access.
The new Creative Hub at CPIT, housed in what was the Creative Industries Faculty administration area until recently, is doing more than providing office space, according to Dean of the Faculty of Creative Industries Jane Gregg.
“It is very comforting for people to be here. They are no longer isolated, or working out of their homes or local cafes. They’re here with us now in a professional space with other people who understand what they are doing, in a supportive and positive environment of like-minded people working towards the same goals and with similar challenges,” she said.
Cohabitation and collaboration will ultimately help the arts in Christchurch to survive, she noted. “The benefits for them, and for us, are that we are all together in one space, we’ve got the opportunity to work together, respond to new issues quickly and work on them as a community rather than as individuals. It might take two weeks to get a meeting with somebody previously, but now you can walk down to their office, have a chat and get things moving.”
The Creative Hub reflects CPIT’s close ties to the arts sector as a whole. “If we haven’t got a relationship with the arts community, the practitioners, the administrators and the visionaries, how do we know that the education we offer is appropriate and relevant? To work directly with practitioners and leaders in this sector provides so many benefits for CPIT and our students too,” she said.
The Faculty of Creative Industries’ Relationship Manager Martin Trusttum noted that the post February 22 situation has facilitated Christchurch’s arts organisations to share resources and work more collaboratively. “What this initiative has achieved - getting them into the same physical space - is something that 15 years of discussions and so forth has not done. Unfortunately it has taken an earthquake to bring people together. But the pay-off is huge.”
Adam Hayward, director of The Body Festival, has been “working remotely” and waiting to find out whether he can retrieve computers from his office in a Manchester Street building, which is soon to be demolished. He agrees that the new working arrangements are beneficial for everyone. “Christchurch arts in general has been quite isolationist, so the earthquake has really given Christchurch the opportunity to challenge that,” he said. “It’s a catalyst for creative change; now we have a whole bunch more collaboration and we can lobby with a unified voice.”
Establishing a working environment quickly has been a priority. CNZ and CPIT have both provided IT support, CNZ has engaged a full time ‘earthquake recovery’ staff member and CPIT has offered the space for the initial period at no cost, after which CNZ will manage lease arrangements. CNZ is also currently homeless and has set up an office at the hub too.
The Creative Hub is part of CPIT’s longstanding motivation to support the wider communities of Christchurch. The arts community is in real need of this helping hand, Martin Trusttum said. “It’s the livelihood of these people, it’s the cultural life of the city for the next eight months, these are the things that make the city a place you want to live in – it’s not the only thing, but it’s a major part of it. It’s the heart and soul of the place really.”