Creator steps down from the CAN
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.