In response to the article "Rotorua sculpture could be world-first, but critics call it extravagant" (Rotorua Daily Post, December 5), I would like to congratulate Rotorua Lakes Council on its continued support for public art in Rotorua.

Rotorua has been a leader in New Zealand with its nationally-recognised Percent for Arts public art policy, which has helped enhance the city's spaces and made them more inviting and vibrant. I have no doubt the Hemo Gorge sculpture will be a pioneering work that all residents of Rotorua can be proud of, and that visitors to the city will admire.

Rotorua Residents and Ratepayers Association chairwoman and former councillor, Glenys Searancke, believes the already budgeted capital expense for this work is an "unnecessary extravagance". By describing it as such, I'm concerned she is missing the wide ranging benefits provided by the arts.

The impact of quality public art on residents and visitors to Rotorua goes far beyond "something pretty and nice". Public art is a powerful expression of a city's vibrancy and mana. Alongside other arts and culture, it works to build a strong and prosperous community while reinforcing and reflecting its residents' identities.

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I suggest those with reservations about this work consider what Rotorua would be like without the inspiring arts and culture which help define your beautiful city.

STEPHEN WAINWRIGHT
chief executive, Creative New Zealand