New Zealand - International Document

Gauging the Impacts of Post-Disaster Arts and Culture Initiatives in Christchurch: A Literature Review

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Life in Vacant Spaces Charitable Trust

Year of Publication:

Manatū Taonga – Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Publication Type:


The objective of the literature review, prepared by Life in Vacant Spaces Charitable Trust, was to gather and assess existing research on the impacts post-disaster arts and culture have had on social, economic, health and cultural wellbeing in Christchurch. This literature review is interested, in a broad sense, in any artistic and creative activities that have emerged in Christchurch after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes – whether they have been implemented by newly formed organisations or are post-disaster activities of longstanding organisations. For the purpose of this study, ‘arts and culture initiatives’ excludes any heritage, sports and recreation activities and projects.

The collection of materials looked at for this literature review comprises scholarly articles, conference proceedings, independent publications, wellbeing surveys, impact assessments and some uninterpreted raw data. The studies and organisational data in the literature review have been categorised thematically, based upon their particular relevance to social, cultural, economic, or health impacts. This study hopes to identify some gaps in the existing research, and to help the Ministry for Culture and Heritage commission further research.

The review includes a summary of the strongest and most repeated findings encountered in the existing research, as follows:
• There have been perceived physical and mental health benefits for those participating in Christchurch’s post-disaster artistic and creative initiatives
• Arts and culture can help preserve and/or reinvent social memory, which contributes to post-disaster resilience and urban identity
• Having a collaborative and all-inclusive arts infrastructure is important for full recovery
• Community groups often played vital roles in their neighbourhood’s resilience and wellbeing
• The presence of pre-existing community infrastructure contributes to stronger post-disaster community resilience
• Many individuals and cultural organisations have been eager to contribute to the emerging urban identity of post-disaster Christchurch
• Traditional arts organisations have demonstrated adaptive capacities and resilient efforts
• Arts and culture initiatives should be included in the official recovery process in Christchurch
• The provision of appropriate venues is vital for the prosperous and sustainable development of the arts and culture sector
• There is a perception that artistic and creative initiatives are impractical or superfluous in a post-disaster context.

Evidence Type: Literature Review

Main Focus: Community Development

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Community

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Life in Vacant Spaces Charitable Trust (2016). Gauging the Impacts of Post-Disaster Arts and Culture Initiatives in Christchurch: A Literature Review. Wellington: Manatū Taonga – Ministry for Culture and Heritage.