The arts are vital to a healthy city. Whether it be live theatre, music, paintings or sculptures in galleries, dance, street theatre or photography, they all add to the feel-good factor of a city.
They do so much to keep a city's soul nourished and healthy.
That's why it was good to hear that Tauranga Art Gallery has had its busiest month since it opened in 2007. I think that's fantastic.
Last month, 7231 visitors went through the gallery doors, compared with 4776 in July 2012, and 3907 in July 2011.
Year-on-year figures show almost 61,000 patrons, up 5000 on 2012.
Director Penelope Jackson said the gallery was always trying to boost visitor numbers and doing so was a challenge. Clearly, the gallery staff are doing a good job.
One thing that did strike my eye, however, was some of the demographics for visiting art lovers: 22 per cent of visitors to the gallery are from the Western Bay district, 30 to 40 per cent are from outside Tauranga and remaining 38 per cent are locals.
The gallery costs about $1.2 million a year to run and 80 per cent of that comes from Tauranga city and Western Bay ratepayers.
Now if we put the rates microscope on those figures some interesting things come up.
Western Bay puts a minuscule $33,000 towards the gallery and so its 13,400 residents who visit are paying about $2.50 per year in their rates.
Tauranga's 23,000 visitors pay the bulk of the costs at $25 each a year in their rates.
The 20,000 to 24,000 who come from out of the area pay nothing - unless they happen to do the right thing and make a gold-coin donation when they enter.
Now I reckon we need to even things up a little as it looks more than a little lopsided at the moment. It should really be a straight-out charge.
Tauranga residents, who fund most of the gallery, should only pay a $2 entry fee. That's for everyone - school kids, pensioners, beneficiaries.
Western Bay residents, who only pay a pittance towards the arts in their rates, should be paying about $5 to enter the gallery and tourists should be $7-plus.
The money raised would reduce the burden on Tauranga's ratepayers while getting it off those who currently pay little for the amenity. I certainly don't mind forking out $5 to visit a gallery or museum - or more for specific exhibitions - and out-of-towners won't mind paying to enter either.
One of Tauranga's major economic issues is that it is essentially a warm-weather destination.
In summer, we are packed to the pohutukawas by beachgoers but, in winter, you could fire a cannon down our streets and not hit anyone.
We need to draw people to our city in the colder months and I reckon the best way is through arts festivals.
They are indoors and we will be bringing in people who will stay a few days and nights in the city, paying for accommodation, eating in our restaurants or buying from our shops.
Weekend arts events can be on many things - such as a 24-hour photo competition that's open to anyone who is in Tauranga over that period. Photographers have 24 hours from 6pm Friday to 6pm Saturday to submit one picture, which is judged on the Sunday morning and a range of prizes is handed out to the winners.
Or a 24-hour event where artists must complete a painting for judging.
The 24-hour comps would have prizes of say $5000, but would bring in big tourist dollars to the city.
In England, the Hull Freedom Festival brings in 75,000 people over two days and nights and generates $5 million in that time.
How about we host a Shakespeare Festival? If we can't organise a series of plays initially then let's get started with movies of the plays. Throw in an Elizabethan banquet night and you'll grab plenty of aficionados coming to town.
And let's not forget we have some superb cultural groups in our Maori community and we should be getting behind them and hosting things such as kapa-haka events, or artworks from leading carvers and painters.
The people we need to let loose on building the arts in Tauranga are the ones who are successfully doing it now - the folk at Creative Tauranga, which is the umbrella arts agency for the Western Bay of Plenty and supports local artists of all media.
As well as organising great public events, it has a community gallery. Creative Tauranga is in touch with what is going on in our arts community and we need to draw on their skills and knowledge to make this city become an arts destination.
Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.