Sometimes you don’t truly value what you have until it’s gone. This is certainly the case with orchestras and arts organisations more broadly. Unfortunately, it’s an all-too-common experience to see a community rallying around an arts company facing an existential crisis and fighting for survival. But it is always heartening to see how much people value their orchestras and cultural institutions, and to realise how important they are to the experience of life in a city or state.

My experience in Christchurch, New Zealand over the past five years has put this into sharp focus. It has also highlighted the enormous cultural value which can be unlocked by arts infrastructure projects. There are many orchestras needing infrastructure to further unlock their own potential cultural value. The desperate need for a new concert hall in Adelaide for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is just one example.

Christchurch’s Cathedral Square after the earthquake

When I became Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in 2015, the organisation was in the process of completely reinventing its relationship with the community and the city itself. With much of the area completely devastated by the...

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