Archives for posts with tag: Gap Filler

In 2012, Lonely Planet named Christchurch one of the most exciting places to visit in the world. Gap Filler was a large part in that:

Don’t miss playing a few ends at the Lyttelton Petanque Club, a development from the Gap Filler Charitable Trust, a community initiative that’s reinvigorating derelict spaces around Christchurch. Another Gap Filler project, the Think Differently Book Exchange, sits on the corner of Barbadoes and Kilmore Streets on the edge of the CBD. Just look for the retro fridge crammed with assorted tomes available to swap.

The New York Times named Christchurch #2 on it’s “52 place to go in 2014“;

Though much of the central city has yet to be rebuilt, entrepreneurs and volunteers are finding surprising ways to make temporary use of empty lots and bring life back to the downtown. The Gap Filler program, begun a couple of months after the first quake in September 2010 and expanded after a more destructive second quake in February 2011, has created an open-air performance space made of blue pallets, a dance floor with coin-operated music and lights, and even a nine-hole mini-golf course in vacant lots across the city. The Greening the Rubble campaign has since the 2010 quake been planting temporary gardens on the sites of demolished buildings.

Prince Charles danced on the Dance-o-Mat. Roger Sutton rode at the cycle-powered cinema. The Pallet Pavilion become the backdrop to thousands of photos, including one of our incoming councillors. So I was surprised to see these complaints appear in the paper today:

Gap Filler is a “backward” organisation that should be forced off the former Crowne Plaza Hotel site, Christchurch City Council has been told. “Some people” see the Crowne Plaza site under Gap Filler as “messy” and “shanty style”, public relations man David Lynch told city councillors recently.

I honestly don’t know where to start. Maybe with a story that relates to the Commons site, relayed to me by someone involved. When the Arcades were being put in, an old man wandered past, looked at the arches going in, and as he shuffled off, mumbled something about it being “great to see the government finally getting something done”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Gap Filler is a true community organisation, one that has done dozens of projects across the city on the smell of an oily rag. Some of them don’t work. But when they do, like the Dance-o-Mat, the Book Fridge, the Pallet Pavilion, they have gone on to become the de facto symbols of the rebuild. They are the ground-up recovery that is pressing on in spite of the formal recovery.

If this guy loves demolition sites with nothing on them but weeds, then I could suggest literally hundreds of other sites in the CBD he might like to visit. If he thinks that moving the Commons from this site is somehow going to magically “cleanse” this site, then maybe he should ask himself why that hasn’t happened anywhere else in the city? I don’t know much about this guy, but he is clearly not as clever or nuanced as his film auteur namesake:

Lynch gives public relations advice to hospitality and other businesses on Victoria St and said he was certain they supported him but he made the presentation on his behalf.

I’d suggest that if you are employing the services of this guy to do your public relations, you start looking elsewhere. He’s taken aim at one of the most popular organisations that has been seen in Christchurch post-quake, with some poorly constructed arguments. Surely any public relations advisor worth his salt would have kept his mouth shut.


EDIT: Via Lyndon Hood, David Lynch visits the Black Lodge


This is an opinion piece that ran in the Press this morning from three of the people heavily involved in FESTA and Free Theatre. They also work – or worked – at the University’s department of Theatre and Film Studies, which seems destined for the chop. In one article, it sums up the problems with the rebuild, and the University – as well as some of the best things that have happened in Christchurch since the quakes; Gap Filler, FESTA, Life in Vacant Spaces.

It should not be surprising then that Free Theatre company members have not only been involved in creating performance projects like Canterbury Tales, but have also been responsible for initiating “flaxroots” projects that have gained considerable attention for their experiments in creative urban renewal post-earthquakes: Gap Filler, Life in Vacant Spaces, FESTA, Arts Voice, Arts Circus and the River of Arts.

Many of these projects are very visible, including some which have featured in University of Canterbury advertising campaigns. You’d think that the marketing experts in the Registry would be able to see the benefit of keeping people that bring the institution such kudos; instead, they’re going on the scrap heap so we can make way for more engineers:

In 2016, UC will disestablish Theatre and Film Studies. As many will know, the university has been endlessly restructured over a number of years, preceding and following the earthquakes. The latest round sees around 15 jobs in the College of Arts cut, with Theatre and Film Studies the sole department to be axed.

The tertiary education policy of Minister Steven Joyce treats the university as a job training facility rather than a place to develop free- thinking and interdisciplinary innovation. But in times of crisis training for the status quo is increasingly useless.

This whole story is a great encapsulation of how the Government has got this recovery completely ass-backwards; scrapping one department that has done more to populate post-quake Christchurch with joy and expression than any other entity, and using the “savings” to fix another department that is clearly not broken.

Pretty much everyone knows about Gap Filler, right? They do great things in Christchurch. They want more people to do great things. So they asked everyone who is running for Council and Mayor a few questions, and then collated the replies. The questions were:

1. In what ways, if elected, would you encourage active citizenship & people’s participation in building our city?

2. What role can Council play to make the post-earthquake environment an attraction rather than a deterrent?

3. Do you support experimentation via temporary community, art, business and architecture projects? If so, how can Council support these temporary activities? If not, why not?

4. What of your recent work and volunteering experience is relevant to Christchurch’s present needs?

5. Which Blueprint anchor project are you most supportive of and why?

So jump through to the link above, and you can find out how the candidates in your ward answered (if they answered at all.)

So before yesterday, I thought bunting was what you did in baseball when you were too uncordinated to clear the catcher on second base. Well, it turns out that bunting is also used to describe a series of flags that you hang from a rope. Gap Filler have a lot of bunting. Gap Filler started after the first quake as a community and arts response to the destruction of buildings, by using them in new, social ways. The first one was on Colombo St, and featured bands, films, solo musicians, petanque, socialising and general good times. They then did an exhibition of photographs on a wall beside the art gallery. The next Gap Filler is happening from today, again on Colombo St – though this time, down the Sydenham end. The site is where “Threw the Keyhole” used to be, just by the corner of Milton Street and Colombo. There will be a full programme of cultural events, more movies from the archives, musicians from all corners and genres, and yes, lots of bunting.

Get down and check it out, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and then again next week, from Wednesday to Sunday. It gets pretty cold in the evenings these days, so wrap up warm, and it will be cancelled for the night if it’s raining. Mad props to Coralie, Andrew, Ryan and their team of helpers for putting it all together – it’s one of those things that makes you feel good about living in Christchurch, so I applaud them for doing it.