Cre­ator steps down from the CAN

Napier Courier - - News - BY BRENDA VOWDEN [email protected]

Hav­ing a ‘can-do’ at­ti­tude helped drive Christine Heaney’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to get Cre­ative Arts Napier (CAN) off the ground.

And four years later, she is mov­ing on to let her own cre­ative juices flow. Christine is re­tir­ing to en­joy time in her pot­tery stu­dio, in the gar­den, sewing and spend­ing time with grand­sons — things she could only dream about when CAN was get­ting off the ground.

As man­ager of then Cre­ative Napier, Christine saw an op­por­tu­nity for the or­gan­i­sa­tion to have its own home when the for­mer Bor­ough Coun­cil build­ing, which had been moved to By­ron St dur­ing the MTG up­grade, be­came avail­able.

“It was in­ter­est­ing hav­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion pro­mot­ing the arts with­out the premises to hold events or ex­hi­bi­tions. We made a pro­posal to Coun­cil for it to be re­fur­bished.”

Christine was not only in­stru­men­tal in set­ting up CAN, but also in­volved in get­ting the premises, plans for the build­ing, in­put into the ren­o­va­tion and the con­sid­er­able fund-rais­ing re­quired.

“It was Christine who raised half a mil­lion dol­lars for the cen­tre, sup­ported by won­der­ful spon­sors who were so gen­er­ous,” says CAN me­dia co­or­di­na­tor Lisa Feyen. A $300,000 grant from the Lot­ter­ies Com­mis­sion se­cured the deal, giv­ing other com­pa­nies the con­fi­dence to also invest.

The Arts Cen­tre fi­nally opened in De­cem­ber 2014, and Christine filled the cal­en­dar with events — chil­dren’s school hol­i­day pro­grammes, out­door con­certs, Seaweek events, face­paint­ing at the Rugby World Cup game, a flash­mob dur­ing the Cul­tures’ Fes­ti­val and even yarn bomb­ing in the CBD.

“We did lots of out­door events — they were easy to de­liver.”

Christine says although she has achieved a lot over her time at the reins of CAN, it was a con­stant bat­tle for fund­ing.

“We have a won­der­ful fa­cil­ity here, but we’re as­set rich and cash poor.” She says fund­ing from the Lot­ter­ies Com­mis­sion has slowed right down.

“De­mands on them has grown so there’s less funds for us — the pri­or­ity for arts is down at the bot­tom.”

Christine says his­tory and our cul­ture is recorded by the arts.

“It’s im­por­tant to our well­be­ing.”

She looks back on her most mem­o­rable achieve­ments — set­ting CAN up and tak­ing it to the point where it is host­ing non­stop ex­hi­bi­tions, work­shops, be­hind the scenes meet­ings and ‘dos’. It has been a pop-up restau­rant, hosted the launch of cook­books and sup­ported new artists. She be­lieves it is now time for some­one else to take on the job.

“I will miss work­ing with the girls and the vol­un­teers, bounc­ing ideas off each other and the dis­cov­ery of new artists. It’s a re­ally big kick when some­one comes in ooz­ing with tal­ent and they don’t know it. It’s very sat­is­fy­ing to hold an ex­hi­bi­tion to set them off.”

Re­tir­ing CAN man­ager Christine Heaney when she or­gan­ised the Tree Cosies in Emer­son Street.


Duck races hosted by Cre­ative Napier were among a raft of events or­gan­ised by re­tir­ing man­ager of CAN, Christine Heaney.

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