No doubt the 298 members of the Kapiti Arts & Creative Industries group already know that living a life more creative, is good for the soul, good for our wellbeing, good for our energy, and the benchmark for human communication and expression.

Words, whilst handy, are not always necessary. Creative expression, whether musical, drawn, sculpted, painted, etched, filmed, spoken, or stitched is a universal language of its own. Many believe that cross-cultural understanding is gained principally through creative expression and exchange. Some of us know from first hand experience, the role that the arts have played in UN peacekeeping missions. Our troops might have been present to rebuild infrastructure in East Timor, Bougainville, the Arabian Gulf and other ‘hot spots’ in the world, but the lasting legacy is the mutual respect and understanding forged through artistic exchanges with different sets of people in the same place, at the same time. Peace is not a gift. It is earned. And it takes time. The arts are critical to that process.

Artwork by Ruby Jones.

The power of the arts to make us stop, think about what we seeing, hearing, touching and feeling, and to transform us seemingly from one place to another although readily appreciated, can be underestimated.

As New Zealanders struggled to comprehend the tragic events and resulting loss of life on March 15th in Christchurch, we turned to the arts in our time of grief. They became a tool for us to join together. Words were not necessary. Artwork by Wellington based Ruby Jones, was elevated to the cover of TIME magazine. Numerous other artists also gave us images to hold on to, and young and old gave performances all across the country. Our artistic outpouring went global. The world felt our shock and pain and saw us respond in a way seemingly not seen on the worldwide stage before. We are still figuring it out, and you can be sure community arts projects and other creative projects will help carry us through in the years to come.

Celebrating diversity, understanding each other and the world we live in through artistic exchange, is not new. Artist residencies, composer and writer in residence opportunities, film festivals, as well as arts and cultural events and festivals are common place in our country. Here in Kapiti, there is a rich diversity of artistic practice across all disciplines. I’d like to see our region increase opportunities for artistic and cultural exchange and I hope this group can help make that happen, in various ways through more public art, establishing artist in residence opportunities, and establishing artistic exchanges with other regions. Now, more than ever, we need our music compositions, our artworks, our films, our designs, and the collaborative nature of creative practice, to be the voice that shapes our future.

Jonny Clark & Lynley Ruck from Printdoctor, fundraising for Christchurch. 

Before I sign off, a round of applause for our local music industry coming together to raise funds for the families who lost loved ones in Christchurch. Thanks to the leadership of group members AJ Crawshaw and Marc Hamilton, more than 20 Kapiti based music acts performed for free, donations from more than 50 businesses were secured, which resulted in more than $11,000 being raised in the recent The Local Scene Live Aid for Christchurch event. It was the 6th largest of 75 donations made to Victim Support. It was Kapiti at its best!

Thanks to all the members of this group who responded by donating time, goods, and came along on the day. And now let’s support our generous musicians and head along to the next Local Scene event on May 18 – tickets are only $10 and the money goes directly to the musicians. To see the line up and also photos from the Live Aid fundraiser head to The Local Scene Kapiti.