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JH

A City Is Not a City if…..

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An easily accessible municipal art gallery that can make acquisitions and display its collection, obviously plays a crucial civic role, promoting pride in its national, regional and international cultural achievements—and if a city does not have one then that city is ineptly managed. Therefore if Sue Gardiner (of the Chartwell Trust) tells me that Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki is under threat—that it might not remain free, that its hours could be drastically reduced—I take notice. You (as an EyeContact reader) should sit up too.

Now I’m not the sort of person who divides the people I meet every day into two camps—‘philistines’ and ‘cultured’—for you might like Pepsi and I like Coke, but who cares? What gives you pleasure is your business. I’m not going to get too preoccupied with your recreational pursuits.

I also don’t consider art lovers to be morally superior citizens to non-art enthusiasts. (Some of the top Nazis were classical music connoisseurs) What I do know is that all my life I’ve loved hanging out in galleries, museums, libraries, auditoriums, cinemas and theatres. They collectively provide a universe I constantly think about, and with it a conglomerate of various communities that love intellectual debate and aesthetic pleasure.

An easily accessible municipal art gallery that can make acquisitions and display its collection, host touring shows, and organise local events obviously plays a crucial civic role, promoting pride in its national, regional and international cultural achievements—and if a city does not have one then that city is ineptly managed. Therefore if Sue Gardiner (of the Chartwell Trust) tells me that Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki is under threat—that it might not remain free, that its hours could be drastically reduced—I take notice. You (as an EyeContact reader) should sit up and be alarmed too.

Here is what she has to say:

A campaign has been started to raise awareness of ongoing harsh funding cuts to Auckland Art Gallery and the urgent need to let Auckland Council (and Regional Facilities Auckland) know the public expect them to increase funding in the next round of budget decisions for Auckland’s Long Term Plan— this is happening very soon. There will be a series of emails sent to let you know what you can all do to help, this below is the first with another one coming next week. The campaign is called: pART of me— #saveourgallery. Email <partofme@saveourgallery.co.nz> to be on the database to receive these emails.

STEP ONE: Make some noise! Spread the word!

If you open the website links below too, you will find some ‘pART of Me’ templates you can use to write your own messages to Council about what pART art plays for you, what pART the gallery has in the city…what pART culture plays to the vitality of a growing city.

We want to show the Council a Community Portrait of pARTy Supporters: Take a photo of you and your pART of Me message and send with your name and feedback to: <partofme@saveourgallery.co.nz>

MORE Info in the email below - 

Thanks for playing a pART!
Sue Gardiner
Chartwell Trust
A pARTner of the Auckland Art Gallery since 1997.

[Gardiner continues…] “What happens when you underfund the core cultural backbone of a city? That’s a scary thought… But one we all need to be thinking about. Why? Because our council is about to make some seriously serious decisions about the future—and Auckland Art Gallery is in the firing line.

Here are the facts:

Funding for Auckland Art Gallery has been cut dramatically over the last few years and it will be forced to take major action if funding isn’t remarkably increased from 2018 onwards.

Get this—the Gallery has 50% more exhibition spaces, 80% more public event space and a growing Auckland super-city population to serve… Yet it operates with the same level of public funding as it did over 10 years ago. The Gallery has more on offer but gets less funding? What’s up with that?

So what will happen if our Gallery is no longer a vibrant pART of the city?

Not only will a huge icon be forced to reduce what it does best, but our city’s cultural imagination and wellbeing will deteriorate, we’ll have fewer international shows, tourism will suffer, local artists will lack support and opportunities, but most of all the people of our city will be deprived of great art. Our students, elders, children, rugby players, bus drivers—art is a pART of everyone and everything, after all.

What can you do to #SaveOurGallery?

Over the next two months, Auckland Council will hold a series of discussions around the 10 Year Long Term Plan—and it’s up to us to show them how much this city loves the Auckland Art Gallery and why its funding needs to be taken seriously right now—for the future of art in the city.

Your first mission? Help us make some noise!

Share one of our ‘PART of Me’ social media tiles online with your friends and family to show you care and to help grow awareness 

Spread the word on Facebook: www.facebook.com/saveourgallery
Visit the website to get clued up: www.saveourgallery.co.nz 

Sue Gardiner’s attempt to get the Council to maintain a responsible fiscal endorsement of this major (multi-community) cultural facility urgently deserves your enthusiastic support. Check it out.

John Hurrell

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This Discussion has 7 comments.

Comment

John Hurrell, 8:20 a.m. 31 January, 2018

The thing is that culture is not locality specific or exclusive. It is national and shouldn't be ghettoised, so if I want to discuss NZ exhibitions with visiting family or friends (other artists or writers) who live outside of Auckland, I don't want to have to be sneaky and give them them my library card so we take turns at enjoying the shows. We should experience them together to enable constructive conversation and lively debate.

The other problem is the cafe where people like to meet, even if they don't visit the exhibitions. Are the doors going to be guarded now, so patrons are only those with paper wristbands? It is counter-productive; er counter...(un)productive.

Reply to this thread

Andrew Paul Wood, 12:19 p.m. 2 February, 2018

It's absurd. 39% of Auckland's population was born in another country - does this mean they will have to carry ID with them to visit their own civic art gallery? NGV doesn't. AGNSW doesn't. Tate Modern doesn't. The National Gallery doesn't. How are they going to police this foolishness?

 In reply

John Hurrell, 1:22 p.m. 2 February, 2018

They can't, because the library cards don't carry names, only signatures. By attempting to milk a profit from overseas tourists they are penalising NZ art lovers who happen to live outside of Auckland.
In places like Germany civic pride means that each city is keen to upstage its neighbours with its cultural assets. Such notions are not grasped in this country.

Reply to this thread

Ralph Paine, 1:43 p.m. 2 February, 2018

I'm sitting up but not alarmed: when the sky falls there's gonna be a different city on its back.

Reply to this thread

John Hurrell, 1:54 p.m. 2 February, 2018

You should be alarmed, Ralph. Don't you want to have Wellingtonians, Cantabrians and Dunedinites come in and admire the Ralph Paines in the AAG/Chartwell Collections? Of course you do! We all love an audience.

Reply to this thread

Ralph Paine, 4:58 p.m. 2 February, 2018

A stack of unmarked paper
Autumn’s prospect

Reply to this thread

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