The Tauranga City Council’s decision to reinstate the inflation adjustment on the art gallery grant is a key element in the gallery being able to attract high quality exhibitions of the standard of two opening this weekend, says gallery director Penny Jackson.
Penny says the upcoming photography exhibition - Brian Brake: Lens on the world - would not be seen in Tauranga unless the gallery was able to tick off Te Papa’s requirements regarding lighting, environment control and security.
Tauranga Art Gallery director Penny Jackson sets up for the Brian Brake: Lens of the world exhibition.
Art Gallery Trust chairman Graeme Horsley says he’s absolutely delighted at council’s decision made during Ten Year Plan submissions deliberations this week.
“They must have taken my messages to heart,” says Graeme, referring to recent clashes with the council over the issue.
“I’m absolutely delighted. It removes just an enormous overhang that’s been there for a while now. I think we have done pretty well to break even, but it’s been a lot of hard work particularly on Penny’s part.”
The decision to reinstate inflation adjustment for the gallery grant, removes the expected gallery deficit budgeted 2013/14 and 2014/15 says Graeme.
The council ceased inflation adjusting the gallery’s grant in July 2010, holding it at $847,400.
All the other council controlled organisations continue to have their operating grants inflation adjusted. In spite of the handicap the art gallery managed to return small cash surpluses in recent years against a background of steadily escalating costs.
“It now means that we can keep a full programme of exhibitions and bring in quality exhibitions from Te Papa and the Auckland Art Gallery, and it means we can continue to run our education programme, which is one of the most important things that we are doing for the community at the moment,” says Graeme.
In the last school year 10,000 Tauranga area school pupils visited the Tauranga Art Gallery on organised visits.
“Every one of those children were taken on a tour, then taken to the studio,” says Penny Jackson.
“They learned about what they had seen then they made something. All that is taught in line with the national curriculum, it’s not entertainment.”
Its work that receives Ministry of Education support because what the gallery provides for the community is very significant, says Penny.
“Along with those children we get adults as well, we get up to ten parents coming along,” says Penny.
“They will say ‘We don’t often come here, we really enjoyed ourselves and we are going to come back bring a friend back’.
“The children are growing up with a gallery and it will become a natural place to visit. In the bigger cities where there are galleries and museums it’s a natural thing to do on weekends and holidays.
Tauranga doesn’t have a museum and the gallery is not yet five-years-old, but Penny says its role is beginning to become embedded in the community.
“Tens of thousands of school children have been through the gallery, and so many of them are coming back weekends and holidays.
“For us that is a great success because you have won someone over and they have talked about it enough to bring someone back.”
Penny says the gallery’s role in the city also fits the council aspirations of ‘future proofing’ the city to make it a place that encourages people to live in.
“I hear a lot of stories of young professionals coming here but they don’t stay,” says Penny. “They do a couple of years here, but what else is there to do apart from the beach. The Mount’s lovely to walk around and there’s good coffee – but what else is there.”
It’s great to have the support from the council and the support from the community, who put in submissions on the Ten Year Plan, says Penny.
“We are a public art gallery. You can probably count public art galleries in the world on one hand that actually make money.
“We are a charitable trust, not for profit. But for the last couple of years we have turned it around, and we are in a surplus position.”
Brian Brake: Lens on the world features more than 100 photographic reproductions from Te Papa’s permanent art collection, and is the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of this notable Magnum photographer’s work, spanning his forty year career.
Brian Brake was New Zealand’s best known photographer in the 1970s and 1980s. He gained international prominence with his ’Monsoon’ essay on India, which was seen around the world in Life, Paris Match and other picture magazines in 1961.
Also opening on June 1 is Mixing Different Heavens by Wellington based painter Rob McLeod.
Rob grew up in Glasgow attending Glasgow School of Art before moving to New Zealand in 1972.
His paintings are in major New Zealand collections including at Te Papa.
The walls of the Tauranga Art Gallery are higher than those of any gallery he has previously exhibited in, presenting Rob with technical challenges when putting together Mixing Different Heavens, which he created specifically for the Atrium space.