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Cultural renaissance versus cultural vandalism

2000 web siteLabour Leader Helen Clark said today that restoring the National Library would be central to New Zealand's cultural renaissance under Labour.

"Art and culture express the heart of our nation. They play a huge role in expressing our identity as a dynamic, vibrant, innovative nation which has so much to offer the world. But under National, arts and culture have been sacrificed to the free market.

"It is ironic that on the same day that the National Party issued platitudinous drivel claiming it supported our arts and culture, the National Party's cultural vandalism at the National Library - the custodian of New Zealand's artistic heritage - claimed another victim.

"A major benefactor of the Alexander Turnbull Library is preparing to remove materials currently on loan to the Turnbull, and may not make future bequests because of concerns about the National Library's restructuring. This is very disturbing.

"Many users and supporters of the National Library, and librarians across the country, are very concerned about the dumbing down of our National Library collections. Valuable positions are being lost, and there has been a significant sale of holdings that had been built up over decades.

"The National Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library have benefited in the past from public generosity. The cultural vandalism driven by the Library's top management, with backing from the National Party, is souring public confidence in the Library as custodian of the national heritage.

"As Prime Minister, I intend to take the position of Minister of Arts and Culture to signal how much Labour values our artistic and cultural heritage and wants to support and promote it.

"I want our country to cherish and promote the people who define us as a nation through their stories, their music and dance, their films, their drama, their painting, ceramics, and sculpting - through our art in all its forms. And that means supporting the National Library as the cultural repository.

"The restructuring at the National Library will be halted while we review the damage which current policies have done to it. It is our great desire to restore public confidence in the National Library as an appropriate custodian of our national heritage. This Library will be at the centre of Labour's cultural renaissance," Helen Clark said.

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