It's a Trial for the Arts
A Judicial Review will go ahead following the controversial decision to distance the creation of art from commercial imperatives.
Stemming from PM Jacinda Ardern’s claim that commercial imperatives were constraining the arts, and indication of Government plans to revamp the arts funding system, an unnamed claimant has asked the courts to test whether the newly minted Prime Minister has acted unlawfully.
The case will be heard on the 22 February 2018 at an adjunct-High Court, commonly called the ‘Ultimate Court’, a name popularised by its only ever sitting Judge, Justice Jody Ranzerson. Several expert witnesses are expected to give evidence, including Creative New Zealand CEO, Stephen Wainwright, and Massey University academic, Dr Emily Beausoleil.
The Ultimate Court was set up, according to Justice Ranzerson, to ‘bring justice to the people’. In keeping with this objective, she has required the case to be advertised in the Auckland Fringe Festival.
Calling traditional jury selection procedures ‘outdated’ and ‘boring’, Justice Ranzerson will be selecting jury members on the day of the trial. Ranzerson makes extensive use of juries, in trials that do not usually require, or even allow, them. This will be the first Judicial Review in history to feature a jury, essentially putting law-making power into the hands of twelve people who just wanted to see a show.
Members of the traditional legal profession are less enthusiastic about this encroachment on their mandate. “That would be absurd...preposterous,” says legal expert Murray Hart. It’s a view apparently shared by many; the idea of citizens drawn by lot determining the country’s laws has received savage criticism from all corners of the media and Government. According to one senior MP “arts policy is one thing, but it’s a slippery slope, what do we let the plebs decide next? Trade deals? The budget? It’s irresponsible in the extreme.”
Their fear may be well founded. In a statement on her Twitter account, @judge_jody called for more issues to be tried at the Ultimate Court and asked her followers to tweet their suggestions.
The case will be heard at 7pm on 22 February at Samoa House, 20 Samoa House Lane, Auckland.
“It’s a Trial!” is a co-production between Binge Culture and Barbarian Productions in association with Basement Theatre and part of the Auckland Fringe Festival. Tickets may be purchased from Basement Theatre, with all proceeds going to continued development of The Ultimate Court.