Phoenix-like, the primary arts administration organisation for Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty districts has arisen, confirming its transformed presence and image with a well-attended opening event.
Often the subject of intense public animosity and comment, this territorial authority funded entity under the leadership of Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell weathered significant storms. Tracey’s enduring legacy to the region is of course the waterfront statue garden honouring the work of local children’s author Dame Lynley Dodd and Hairy Maclary and company.
Acting General Manager Jennifer Pearson and her staff have worked hard in their respective roles over a lengthy transition period to ensure there is community input into the ongoing role and responsibilities of the organisation and the practical and visible promotion of local creativity and information provision.
In smaller, but no less effective premises, fronting Willow Street, adjacent to the Tauranga City iSite and opposite the Tauranga Art Gallery, the gallery and administrative offices of what is now Creative Bay of Plenty shine like a beacon. And, it’s into this tardis-like space we are invited to acknowledge the transformation of Creative Tauranga to Creative Bay of Plenty. Yes it may be plus ca change plus la meme chose but, give it a chance.
Once again I was almost the last person in the door for this celebratory event.
No I wasn’t late; I was spectacularly early and then got lost in the new magazines in the next-door Tauranga City Library.
I push my way through the heavy gallery class doors in time to hear Creative Bay of Plenty Charitable Trust Chairperson Marcus Wilkins outlining the name change, a new website and a clarification of role and goals for the organisation.
The current trustees are introduced. Although Jennifer Pearson will be leading the organisation until the new General Manager takes over, she is now publically thanked for her outstanding transition contribution.
I’m more than pleased to see the supportive presence of both Tauranga City and Western Bay District Councillors, community and creative arts group leaders. I’m delighted to see my district neighbour and Mayoral Candidate Gwenda Merriman in the crowd.
It is my opinion that Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty have reached a tipping point: not just because of the steady influx of international migrants, relocating Aucklanders and an increasingly younger-aged community. I like to think we are acknowledging the importance and value both culturally and economically of the creative arts in our community.
Viv Quinn, the multi-talented Arts Administrator, is once again in charge of the drinks table. Parewhati Taikato the newly appointed Gallery Curator is working the room.
I talk with Pua Taikato , Parewhati’s mother and try to “line her up” for an ARTbop interview about her own creative work.
Christine walks the platters of horsd’ouevres/small bites around. I cannot help noticing how beautifully the food is presented – a personal bouquet to Lemongrass catering. I hear comments about the quality and style of these tiny mouthfuls. In particular there is a discussion about the chicken and toasted coconut tartlets.
I’m impressed – probably because I’ve met the people involved in this organisation on so many occasions and realise their dedication isn’t something that we are buying it is something that they are giving to us as a community. Once again I enjoy recently retired Gallery Curator, Millie Newitt’s final exhibition, World Inspired (images below) I say hello to the people who create the world I write about. I’m bemused that there seems to be no-one here from the fabulous arts collective, the Incubator at the Historic Village until I read that the TECT community awards were held the same evening and they are over there.
We need to make the most of this organisation – if you want to be crass, we’re paying for it. Make sure you regularly visit the Creative Bay of Plenty Gallery. Visit the website and see what local creatives are doing. Join the Creative Bay of Plenty Friends and receive regular emails about events and creative activities around the region.
Our major gift-giving season will be here soon. The overseas postal closing dates will be here. The current Creative Bay of Plenty retail shop is quite small at present – I know Parewhati has other ideas about this. But, you could take a look on the shelves to see if there is something there, locally created you could buy as that special gift. Buying locally created art and art craft has the same effect as buying locally grown produce – you are supporting the local community and increasing the local buying power.
If you’ve friends in other parts of New Zealand or friends with holiday homes in the Bay of Plenty region the Creative Bay of Plenty shop has some locally written books available. Katikati haiku writer Catherine Mair has another volume of work:Incoming Tide. Eastern Bay of Plenty creatives Heather Hourigan and Andrea Cooper have produced Arts Revealed – it’s a review of Eastern Bay of Plenty artists – great summer reading and creativity promotion (keep a look out for the Lee Switzer photo essays about Whakatane and the Eastern Bay of Plenty we’ve got coming up and my article on the Haiku workshop and Katikati Haiku 2016 competition).
What do I hope is achieved by Creative Bay of Plenty? To encourage collaboration among the wider creative community. I often use the analogy of taneko weaving – the pattern and strength of the weaving is created from the different colours of the thread. The individual colours remain in the pattern. In fact it is essential that their unique identity is retained to create the pattern. But the strength and the pattern is from the “collaboration” – the weaving together of the individual threads. We have the potential to weave a unique creative collaboration in the Bay of Plenty.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.