Waikanae Mid-Winter Arts Festival

  • Deborah Morris
Youth Affairs

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

It's great to be here in Waikanae and see so many talented young people involved in the Waikanae Arts Festival.

It is fantastic that the emphasis of your arts festival is on youth. It is vital to encourage young people to appreciate the arts by exposing them to a wide range of the performing arts, the visual arts and literature. Equally, it's great for audiences to have a chance to appreciate just how talented young people are.

Often when I speak to youth groups and organisations I emphasise the importance of youth development. Youth development is about developing the whole young person - physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and spiritually. It is about learning practical skills and also building confidence and self esteem.

Arts can contribute to that in a big way too - it provides avenues for expression and creativity.

The development of imagination, inspiration and ambition are more crucial to the future lives of young people than their ability to work when they are bored.

It is interesting to note a recent survey by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs which showed that New Zealanders want to see more about cultural activities in the media.

While many newspapers and magazines now have improved coverage of culture and cultural affairs, television is lagging behind. New Zealand On Air figures show that our proportion of good, locally-made TV programmes is very low by international standards. What is there is often buried at the times nobody else wants.

I believe TV planners are misreading the audience and missing an opportunity. Culture and cultural activities are perceived by them as appealing to a minority only, and TV is driven by ratings and commercial realities.

But the survey shows there is a growing audience that wants to see New Zealand on television. Efforts such as this arts festival are about getting the arts and culture out to more people. So I applaud your efforts and am grateful for the chance to see it all for myself.

Interestingly, for a country so into its sport, most people seem to think we get plenty, if not far too much coverage of sport. 89% think there is 'a lot' of sports coverage and more than half say they want more arts.

I suspect that after the coverage of the soccer world cup that many more will be turning to culture rather than sport!

And after reading a newspaper article the other day we should all be grateful.

The article was discussing the world cup and how in France soccer is mainly the preserve of males. Apparently women have been flocking to join football-loathing support groups and a tv channel, in a direct appeal to "soccer widows" will be broadcasting a male strip show on the night of the world cup final!

Sociologists are even predicting that the rate of adultery will rise during the tournament as will the rate of divorce after the tournament.


Not being an advocate for either, I reckon we should just avoid all that and have more arts and culture!

Thankfully, today the Waikanae Arts Festival will keep us all occupied instead!

I'm sure that during the festival many people will have the chance to see and hear new things. Hopefully everyone will look that bit wider than they normally do. And, when you do that why not look even wider still.

Thank you and have a great festival.