Tauranga Art Gallery's popular art bus could be canned and the amount of exhibitions halved because of proposed council funding cuts.

The city council is looking to shave about $17,000 off the gallery's 2014/15 budget by not inflation-proofing the Tauranga City's annual grant which is worth $864,348. This would equate to a 2 per cent cut.

Gallery director Penelope Jackson said the move would leave the gallery with a deficit and force it to look at cutting the popular art bus programme or slashing the level of exhibitions from 15 to just five a year. The art bus had been running since 2007 and took more than 9000 school students each year to the gallery for tours and classes as part of the national curriculum.

Tauranga teachers spoken to by the Bay of Plenty Times said they would be devastated if the art bus was dropped because most schools could not afford to cover the costs of taking classes to the gallery.


Aside from this financial year, the gallery had worked within the same budget for four years despite rising costs such as power and insurance.

"There are some core costs that we simply cannot get away from," Ms Jackson said.

"In February for instance, we had a $10,800 power bill because of the humidity.

"But we can't change that, it is not a cost we can take away.

"If we want to borrow works from Te Papa we have to present a facilities report that tells them about security cameras, staffing, humidity, temperature and, if we do not meet the criteria, then they say no and you exclude a lot of amazing art.

Ms Jackson said if funding cuts continued the gallery would have to look at dropping items such as the art bus, which would save $45,000 a year.

"We could also look at knocking back the amount of exhibitions, to say, five a year.

"I don't see what else we can do to cope with these cuts."


Councillor Catherine Stewart questioned the financial future of the art gallery at a council meeting on Wednesday after documents showed the gallery forecasted a $18,126 deficit in the 2015/16 financial year.

Ms Jackson told the council the gallery could not "keep abreast" of the core costs without becoming a second-rate institution.

"Our plan is for you to reinstate the inflation or perhaps not get rid of it now," she said.