In a national survey of 2,580, of which 370 were from Palmerston North, Creative New Zealand found nine out of every ten (89%) Palmerston North residents aged 15 years and over engaged with the arts during the past 12 months compared with 85% nationally.
85% had attended a visual, performing, written, Māori or Pacifica arts event in the past 12 months compared with 80% nationally and 78% of New Zealanders living outside the five largest cities.
The higher level of interest in the arts in Palmerston North appears to be driven by considerably higher than average love of the performing arts and higher than average love of written arts.
The survey results will be officially announced tonight at Events
Central in the Palmerston North City Council Library.
The event, hosted by comedian Jon Bridges along with guest speaker Simon Bowden who is the chief executive of the Arts Foundation, will showcase a new website celebrating the lives and artwork created by Palmerston North's leading artists.
"In the past few years many people and organisations have contributed tremendously to support the Arts sector and engage with the community. The survey results are a sign that our collaborative strategy is worthwhile," says Axel de Maupeou, Palmerston North City Library cultural co-ordinator.
"We realise times are tight so we have organised the event within existing budgets, brought two projects together, used Council facilities and brought in ex-pat Palmerstonians to help keep costs down."
"The survey has found that art has touched more Palmerston North residents than elsewhere and residents attended more artistic events than other centres. 36% of those surveyed attended ten or more events a year with Māori and youth having the highest participation rates - I think the arts in Palmerston North is in very good heart."
The survey is full of heartening statistics including:
62% want to see more outdoor performances
53% want more street exhibitions
88% say arts are good for you
78% said arts should receive public funding
73% agreed the PNCC should give money to the arts
66% say arts contribute positively to economy
Axel de Maupeou says the survey results are a key milestone in Palmerston North's journey to being recognised as an artistic city that is a vibrant, caring, innovative and sustainable.