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Clark: Expansion of the Arts Channel

Embargoed until 6.00 pm
Friday 8 September 2006

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Address at
Celebration of the Expansion of the Arts Channel

Art Gallery
Kitchener Street

6.00 pm

Friday 8 September 2006

Tonight is a celebration of the Arts Channel’s extension to longer hours and a wider range of content.

All of us with an interest in arts and culture welcome the Channel’s expansion – and all of us includes growing numbers of New Zealanders.

Very large numbers of us participate actively and passively in arts and culture. And we can only be enthusiastic about having a television channel dedicated to our interests screening 24 hours a day.

A channel like the Arts Channel shows the full potential of digital television.

With the digital TV age, we are moving away fast from broadcasting to the mass audience to narrowcasting to specialised interests and audiences. On the old free to air analogue format, programmes dedicated to the arts have had tragically little screenplay. Digital television changes all that.

As Prime Minister, and as Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage, I am a very keen promoter of New Zealand’s arts and culture, but I’m also keen to see it promoted within a broader international context. The Arts Channel brings that broader context right into our homes.

Reflecting and exploring our own society and its roots through the arts cannot be done successfully in a vacuum. We need to understand the world in which we live to understand what is special and unique about us.

And we need to be prepared to benchmark the quality of our creative work across the genres against the highest international standards.

The Arts Channel began two and a half years ago with largely international content, but over time has been introducing New Zealand content. With the expansion of its transmission hours, it will be bringing in even more local content, and I welcome that.

Indeed I believe that will play a role in attracting young people to the channel. Young people have responded enthusiastically to the renaissance in New Zealand music, film, and other creative arts.

Our schools are doing a fantastic job in promoting arts and culture, and increasingly are investing in the facilities which enable first class performances and productions. Only today I have opened the new $11 million auditorium complex at Westlake Boys’ High – a performing arts facility on a scale many towns and cities would be proud to have as a civic amenity.

I believe that the time is right for the Arts Channel to expand. We are a creative nation, and we want to live for more than bread alone. The arts are the soul of our daily lives, and they need to be nurtured, fostered, and promoted.

I regard a 24 hour dedicated arts channel as a huge step forward for New Zealand, and I wish it every success.


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