Christchurch is a vibrant city where locals are free to indulge their own artistic and cultural passions, or challenge their tastes and experience with something a bit different.

Public arts activity is viewed as an indicator of cultural wellbeing, as well as an opportunity to promote Ōtautahi Christchurch as a centre of artistic and cultural excellence, with the potential to stimulate economic activity.



Key findings

Culturally rich and diverse arts scene Increasing trendIncreasingTrend The proportion of people who feel Christchurch has a rich and diverse arts scene increased from 47% in 2012 to 53% in 2018. Further information.
Opportunities to participate and engage with arts Snapshot
71% of respondents agreed that there are opportunities for locals and visitors to engage with the arts and creativity in the city in 2018. Further information.
Barriers to engaging with the arts Snapshot
In 2018, the main barriers cited for people not being able to engage with the arts were a lack of awareness about what's on (45%) and cost (36%). Further information.
Arts and creativity attendance Snapshot
The visual arts and music performances were the most attended types of arts by respondents in 2018, with 58% attending one of these. Further information.
Art gallery visits Increasing trendIncreasingTrend Almost 60% of respondents had visited the Art Gallery in 2018, up from around 50% in 2010. Further information.
Art gallery as place for children/families Snapshot
In 2018, around 40% of respondents were aware of the opportunities provided by the Art Gallery for children and families. Further information.
Employment in the Arts industry Increasing trendIncreasingTrend In February 2018, 555 were employed in the creative arts industry in Christchurch. Further information.
SCAPE Snapshot
Around half of respondents were aware of the SCAPE public art programme in 2018. Further information.
Street art Snapshot
In 2018, 86% of survey respondents agreed that street art improves public spaces for themselves and their community. Further information.

Satisfaction with arts scene

In both 2012 and 2014, 47% of Christchurch respondents to the Quality of Life survey felt that Christchurch had a rich and diverse arts scene. This was very similar to how respondents in other New Zealand cities viewed their local arts scene.

In 2016, there was a large increase locally and nationally in those who felt their city had a rich and diverse arts scene. Christchurch increased from 47 to 60%, while nationally this proportion increased from 45 to 66%.

2018 saw a return to similar levels of satisfaction seen in 2012 and 2014. In Christchurch, 53% of respondents felt the city had a rich and diverse arts scene, while nationally this figure was 40%.

Opportunities to engage with the arts and the role art plays

The 2018 Life in Christchurch Survey asked respondents a series of questions about opportunities to engage with the arts, along with perceptions of the role the arts play in the city.

Just over 70% of respondents agreed that there are opportunities for residents and visitors to engage with the arts and creativity in Christchurch, with 7% disagreeing.

Around 63% of respondents agreed there are opportunities to learn about different cultures through the arts in Christchurch, with 10% disagreeing.

A lower proportion (58%) agreed that the art on show in Christchurch is reflective of the diversity of our city (10% disagreed).

Barriers to engaging with the arts

The main barriers to residents and visitors engaging with the arts in Christchurch perceived by 2018 Life in Christchurch survey respondents were a lack of awareness about what is on in the city (45%) and the high cost of attending events, exhibitions and performances (36%).

Similar proportions of respondents (around 12 to 13%) reported that opportunities were not available at the right time of the day, did not appeal to a variety of tastes, were not available in a variety of locations, or there were cultural barriers to attending.

Arts and culture attendance

Over 86% of respondents to the 2018 Life in Christchurch survey had attended or participated in some form of the arts over the past 12 months.

The most common type of arts attended or participated in was the visual arts (e.g. visiting art galleries, exhibitions, or film festivals) and music (e.g. attending concerts or musical festivals, musical performance, or playing in a band). Around 58% of respondents attended or participated in the visual arts and/or music.

The performing arts (such as live theatre, ballet, dance, circus, haka or pasifika festivals) were attended by or participated in by 55% of respondents, followed by the literary arts at 38% of respondents (includes poetry or book readings, literary festivals or events, or visiting a library).

14% reported they had not attended or participated in any of the arts in the past 12 months.

Art Gallery visits

The 2018 Life in Christchurch survey asked respondents whether they had visited the Christchurch Art Gallery(external link) in the last 12 months. This question was last asked in the 2010 Residents Survey.

Those who reported that they had visited the Christchurch Art Gallery(external link) in the last 12 months increased from 49% in 2010 to 59% in 2018.

Around 40% of respondents to the 2018 Life in Christchurch survey were aware or very aware of the opportunities that the Christchurch Art Gallery provides for children and families to engage with the visual arts. These opportunities often include interactive exhibitions, art trails, activities and workshops aimed at children, and guided tours.

Just over one third were unaware of these opportunities.

Employment in the Arts industry

Employees in the arts sector numbered 555 in 2018, the second highest number since the 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence.

Following the earthquakes, the number of people employed fell from 550 in February 2011 to a low of 371 in 2013. This was largely due to the closure of many arts-related facilities, including the Christchurch Art Gallery, which reopened in late 2015, and the Centre of Contemporary Art (COCA(external link)), which reopened in 2016.

SCAPE public art

Just over half (51%) of respondents to the 2018 Life in Christchurch survey were aware of the SCAPE(external link) public art programme. SCAPE installs free-to-view contemporary public art in Christchurch City, and runs a six week public art season each year showcasing a range of works in public spaces across the central city.

Almost 40% indicated that they were unaware or very unaware of the programme.

Street art

Christchurch's street art(external link) scene, primarily comprising of colourful murals, is viewed positively by the majority of residents. The 2018 Life in Christchurch survey found 86% of respondents agreed that street art improves public spaces for themselves and their community. Fewer than 7% disagreed.

Further information

Please email for further information.

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Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in processing, analysing and reporting the information provided in these web pages and reports. However, the Christchurch City Council gives no warranty that the information in these web pages and reports contain no errors. The Council shall not be liable for any loss or damage suffered consequent upon the use directly, or indirectly, of the information supplied in this publication.