Gallery crit­i­cised as too ‘elit­ist’

Papakura Courier - - FRONT PAGE - NIGEL MOFFIET

A com­mu­nity art gallery has be­come too ‘‘elit­ist’’ and is the rea­son for de­clin­ing vis­i­tor num­bers, lo­cal lead­ers say.

The Pa­pakura Art Gallery has seen ‘‘a sig­nif­i­cant drop’’ in vis­i­tors from 4939 to 3638 over three years ac­cord­ing to its lat­est busi­ness plan re­port.

The num­ber of par­tic­i­pants in art gallery pro­grammes is also down from 1553 to 884 over the same pe­riod from 2014 to 2016.

A call for more Maori and lo­cal arts at the gallery were also among strong rec­om­men­da­tions from a 2016 com­mu­nity sur­vey with over 100 re­spon­dents.

The gallery is funded by the Pa­pakura Lo­cal Board and man­aged by Auck­land Council.

Lo­cal board mem­ber Ge­orge Hawkins says the find­ings are ‘‘re­ally dis­ap­point­ing’’.

‘‘The Pa­pakura Art Gallery is not reach­ing out to all the groups in Pa­pakura … lo­cals don’t hear from the art gallery,’’ he says.

Hawkins, a for­mer Rose­hill Col­lege art teacher, says more com­mu­nity art which ‘‘never sees the light of day’’ should be show­cased at the gallery.

‘‘I’m afraid it might be an elit­ist type of art gallery, which is not good,’’ he says.

Lo­cal board chair­man Brent Catch­pole agrees and says Auck- land Council is out of touch.

‘‘It’s been driven not by the gallery staff but by the next level above them …. they think they’re deal­ing with the likes of the Auck­land Art Gallery whereas Pa­pakura is more of a com­mu­nity art cen­tre and needs to be seen to be pro­vid­ing more of a com­mu­nity ser­vice,’’ he says.

Auck­land Council arts and cul­ture man­ager Richard McWha says the lat­est busi­ness plan has given gallery staff ‘‘a re­newed fo­cus’’.

A change in town cen­tre de­mo­graphic and ‘‘re­duced foot traffic in the area’’ has also been a chal­lenge for the gallery, he says.

Build­ing close re­la­tion­ships with lo­cal arts groups and schools and keep­ing the pub­lic ‘‘wellinformed’’ with ex­hi­bi­tions and open­ings are key pri­or­i­ties, McWha says.

‘‘Many of the ac­tiv­i­ties and ini­tia­tives … will con­tinue to grow and de­velop over the com­ing three years.’’

Pub­lic pro­grammes of­fered by the gallery in­clude Art in the Park, Ako Art Bus (dur­ing Matariki), dance and cul­tural per­for­mances, en­vi­ron­men­tal projects, vis­it­ing speak­ers, classes and work­shops.

Pa­pakura Lo­cal Board chair­man Brent Catch­pole and board mem­ber Ge­orge Hawkins out­side the Pa­pakura Art Gallery.

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