June 18, 2009
HELEN CLARK’S LEGACY TO THE ARTS, AND WILL IT SURVIVE HER?
[by Brannavan Gnanalingam: ‘Werewolf’ – June 2009]
While Helen Clark’s status as a Prime Minister will be debated for some time to come, her choice of the arts portfolio perhaps best illustrates her claim to a personal legacy. She has not been unique in that respect. The reputations of Robert Muldoon and David Lange have become associated just as much with other portfolios -Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs respectively.
Clark became Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage upon being elected in 1999, and she maintained the position until the end, an obvious sign of its importance to her. Cast an eye over what happened in that period, and there were notable artistic successes. Peter Jackson and his Lord of the Rings Oscars’ sweep in 2003, the Flight of the Conchords’ BBC and HBO success, and Lloyd Jones’ Booker Prize short-listing for Mister Pip were some of the more publicised success stories. Other. smaller successes occurred in music, visual arts, independent film and literature. Yet the questions remain: can politicians take credit (or even ought to take credit) for what artists do? If Labour can take credit for artistic successes, then surely they are also responsible for particular failures too. [More]