|The Community Arts Service (CAS, 1946-1966), founded after World War Two, took tours of music, drama, opera, dance and art exhibitions to smaller centres and isolated rural areas throughout New Zealand, fostering the cultural activities undertaken by local groups. From the Auckland University College, where it originated as a branch of Adult Education, it spread to the other University College provinces and, beyond New Zealand, to Australia.
As Adult Education, CAS programmes emphasised educational value and aimed to develop the tastes and level of culture in the participating communities. The Service operated through local CAS committees, encouraging rural centres to take increasing responsibility for the cultural life of their own communities.
Following World War Two, themes of nationalism, decentralisation of culture and correcting the imbalances that existed between rural and urban life so as to create a more egalitarian society, were key issues in New Zealand. The CAS played a significant role in redressing these concerns but to date, have received little critical attention. This thesis, which examines the important role of the Service in the musical and artistic life of twentieth century New Zealand, is an original contribution to the cultural history of this country.
Main documentary research sources consulted were regional histories, publications on New Zealand music, theatre, ballet, opera and journals on the arts from the period. Diaries, correspondence, local cultural societies' documentation and programmes of past concerts held in private collections have been valuable. The archival material for Arthur Owen Jensen and Ronald Graeme Dellow (Alexander Turnbull Library) and, the records of Auckland Adult Education (University of Auckland, Special Collections) have been a significant help. People who were involved with the CAS have generously contributed through interviews and correspondence. Newspaper cuttings in private collections and past issues of the Waikato Times held in the Hamilton Public Library have also been important sources.