Call to expand Hastings art gallery

By LAWRENCE GULLERY


Hastings City Art Gallery is one of Hawke's Bay's "unrecognised jewels" and a case for it to be expanded should at least "be aired" for the community to have its say, two leaders from the arts community believe.

Their wishes may come true or at least be factored into Hastings District Council's redevelopment of Civic Square where the gallery was built in the mid-1970s.

The council ran a competition to generate concept designs for the redevelopment project and more than 130 registrations had been made with the closing date for submissions a week away on January 27.

The gallery will be one of the main components of Civic Square, along with the Hastings Memorial Library, Memorial Cenotaph, Hastings Women's Rest and the Rotary water fountain and wishing well.

Creative Hastings general manager Malcolm Calder said the gallery was impressive, with a high calibre of exhibitions, and the work by its manager Maree Mills was instrumental in attracting art work to the facility.

"While the gallery is a nice space it was limited because of its size," he said.

Mr Calder said it was not his place to comment on how the gallery should be run or whether it should be expanded, but agreed it was a point the public should be able to have its say on.

"That's a subject that should be aired and I can make that observation that this issue should be able to be debated in public," he said.

"But I think another factor is that Napier is currently building a new museum and art galley and the relationship between the two is crucial so they don't duplicate, and there are plenty of examples around the world which show how that can be done."

EIT Hawke's Bay's head of arts and design Suzette Major said the gallery was "a genuine treasure" and an example of the creative community in Hawke's Bay.

She would support any plans to expand or develop the gallery, if it is what the public and the council wanted to see happen.

"It's remarkable to see what Maree has done with her tiny team and small budget, I would love to see the role of the art gallery in Hastings and in Hawke's Bay given a higher priority.

"And for the Hastings gallery in particular to be recognised for the treasure it is, and any appropriate resource possible given to it."

Dr Major said she thought those making decisions on the redevelopment of Civic Square probably were not aware of how highly the gallery was regarded throughout New Zealand.

"So as you can see I am a supporter.

"I've only been here for 18 months and there are some pretty remarkable people in Hawke's Bay."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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