Artists angry at council charges for art market

By John Cousins

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Tauranga artists are seeing red at being forced to pay the city council a fee to exhibit their works at the popular Art in the Park market.

The Tauranga Society of Artists has enjoyed free use of Coronation Park next to the Mount Maunganui Shopping Centre for at least 10 years.

But all that changed late last year when Art in the Park got caught up in a review of the council's policy on how it operated markets and stalls.

The upshot was that the society will be billed $250 for each day the market was held - they were currently scheduled for the first and last Saturdays of the month.

A protest letter drew a sympathetic response from Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby, who acknowledged they were amateur artists looking to recoup some of the costs of their materials.

Mr Crosby pledged to see if the fee could be reduced - something he said the council had done for similar community organisations in the past.

"We'll see if we can accommodate them at a lesser rate."

It would involve looking at the frequency of the market, the commercial and non-commercial components and the actual council costs to monitor Art in the Park.

"It is a vibrant market, we do not want to stop it ... we are pretty flexible."

Problems with the market were highlighted in the society's newsletter last April.

It talked about council concerns at the growth in the scale and commercialism of the Art in the Park events.

Amended rules governing Art in the Park were introduced.

It included setting limits on each artist's display area and how long they could be there.

Artists needed IDs to prove they were members of the society and they did not have a right to a particular space in the park.

Exhibiting artists were expected to "assist in art society tasks in some way in return for the opportunity to sell art commission free".

The artists needed to be in attendance for most of the day and, to simplify the system, there were no rain day alternatives.

The Tauranga Society of Artists declined to comment when contacted by the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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