Creative Tauranga has lost the lease to operate the Cargo Shed in a shock decision that has raised questions about how much confidence Tauranga City Council has in the umbrella art organisation.
The council unanimously backed the case put to it yesterday by Cargo Shed stallholders and appointed them to run the popular tourist attraction for the next 12 months.
It was the stunning conclusion to the rift that had developed between Creative Tauranga and the Cargo Shed Collective after the stallholders were evicted. The council-funded arts organisation believed the shed was not working and needed to be modernised.
Yesterday's decision has dashed plans announced only three days ago by the Creative Tauranga Charitable Trust for a "new and exciting" revamp of the historic building on Dive Cres. The plans featured in the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend on Saturday.
The trust's plans for a more vibrant and energetic feel were soundly defeated after Councillor Murray Guy led the move to drop Creative Tauranga and appoint the collective as the licensee of the Cargo Shed for the 12 months starting July 1. He said the collective's presentation would become part of his re-election campaign later this year.
Cr Guy said the stallholders had a significant emotional and financial commitment to the Cargo Shed.
Deputy Mayor David Stewart said the situation where the council had to choose between Creative Tauranga and the stallholders was "unfortunate, to say the least".
"If we go down this road, does it mean we don't have faith in Creative Tauranga?" he asked.
Cr Stewart questioned where it would all end if the council backed the stallholder splinter group at the expense of the council-funded umbrella organisation. His attempt last month to mediate a solution had resulted in a letter that was "quite blunt", the stallholders had taken umbrage and the whole thing blew apart.
Mayor Stuart Crosby said the issue had been blown out of proportion, in terms of the Cargo Shed artists being a small part of Tauranga's total arts sector. He told the Bay of Plenty Times afterwards there was no doubt Creative Tauranga could have handled it better and had ended up paying the penalty.
The gulf between the trust and the stallholders was summed up by trust chairman Grant Sowter's response to a question about whether there had been a vacuum between the two organisations. "I received the full correspondence file and everything that could have been done was done."
However, the stallholders insisted yesterday they had not been consulted on the changes. Stallholders spokeswoman Kathy Sass said the decision was a "huge relief".