WHEN THE CHRISTCHURCH CITY COUNCIL GIVE AWAY public land, so Canterbury Cricket to construct its 'international' cricket pavilion in Hagley Park, The Press hailed the deal that privatised public land.
According to the newspaper privatising public land gifted to the city was splendid news for everyone. It declared the deal was "a real boost for the city's morale".
That was in 2013. In 2015 though The Press has not displayed the same concern for the city's morale when it comes to the arts.
The Christchurch City Council has proposed cutting the budget of The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, by 6 per cent over the next three years. This cut is among a raft of cuts to community arts organisations.
These organisations all work on very tight budgets and The Press concedes that the cuts "will hurt".
For the art gallery this means the acquisition budget will drop from $250,000 to $80,000 a year, building improvements will be shelved and staff laid off in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes will not be replaced. As well, the number of exhibitions will drop from eighteen to twelve.
But, according to The Press, the art gallery and the art community generally must carry its share of the economic burden.
No such demands were made of Canterbury Cricket. Indeed the newspaper was more than happy to see land and cash thrown at the sporting body.
Some people in the cash - strapped arts community will no doubt be asking why the Christchurch City Council was so generous with Canterbury Cricket. The council's claim that it remains committed to supporting the not-for-profit sector and the community arts and events sector will only be regarded with cynicism.
Indeed the Christchurch City Council has advised the art gallery and other community arts organisations that they should seek funding elsewhere, the implication being that the arts should become more dependent on private donations.
ONE COUNCILLOR who supports the cuts is Jamie Gough. It was pity he didn't display the same financial prudence in the previous council led by Mayor Bob Parker. Among other things, he supported the massive salary increases for former CEO Tony Marryatt. Under Marryatt's watch the loss of consenting accreditation cost the city some $10 million.