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Auckland The New (Cultural) Capital

Auckland The New (Cultural) Capital

Wellington does a good job of talking up its culture scene but Auckland is the real arts and culture capital. That’s the conclusion of a Metro magazine examination of the relative strengths of the creative sector in each of the cities.

The cover of the magazine’s latest issue declares: “Auckland Rules OK? How Wellington’s losing the culture wars.” The story inside, by Metro senior writer Simon Wilson, details how Auckland has a higher proportion of people working in the creative sector, more cultural institutions, more events, bigger audiences and — says the article — much more of the best work. The issue is published on the eve of the Auckland Festival 2009, the city’s fourth biennial arts festival.

“With all of Auckland’s other attractions and distractions, it’s too easy to lose sight of the city’s role as a powerhouse of arts and culture,” says Metro editor Bevan Rapson. “We thought it was time to show that the old stereotypes just don’t fit any more.” While Wellington is still the base for some heavy hitters — Peter Jackson is an obvious example — Metro’s analysis finds the ranks of cultural leaders are thinner than in Auckland.

“Wellington is rightly known for the people in funny costumes at the Sevens rugby,” says Rapson, “but it shouldn’t be seen as the nation’s cultural hub.”

A cultural comparison:
- Auckland is host to at least 19 major or nationally significant arts events. Wellington has 5.
- 11,000 people saw the New Zealand Opera production of Turandot in Auckland last year. In Wellington, 6000 attended.
- There are 14,000 artworks at the Auckland Art Gallery. At Te Papa, there are 11,000.
- Auckland has nearly all NZ’s leading dealer galleries.
- This year Auckland will host 25 touring acts exclusively. Wellington will have no exclusive acts.
- In 2005, Auckland City had 13,616 people working in the creative sector. Wellington had 4,540.
- The Auckland figure represented 5.1 per cent of the city’s population; in Wellington it was 4.1 per cent.

Metro’s March issue goes on sale on Monday, February 23.


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