HCAG exhibition opening - Paths

Another year has begun and our local arts and culture organisations look ahead with cautious optimism. Hastings District Council’s Arts & Culture Manager, Megan Peacock-Coyle, outlines how Council’s arts team is preparing for a busy 2022.

We’ve had a magical summer, haven’t we? The weather has been incredible and, as a region, we’ve even managed a few arts and cultural events. After two years of dealing with the pandemic, it has been the respite and glimmer of hope we all needed.

Here at Hastings District Council, we are excited about upcoming events, performances and exhibitions at Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga/Hastings City Art Gallery and Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre. Our team is engaging with our local and national arts community to ensure we have a wide variety of arts experiences on offer to entertain, challenge and delight you throughout the year. 

In addition, our arts and culture team has been focused on preparing for the next wave of Covid-19 (as much as we can). And now, with the Omicron variant here, we are prepared and adapting to operating in a red light setting.  Unfortunately, this will limit some events, however we will work hard to stay open and operate as best we can, while also keeping our staff and our community safe.

The wellbeing and safety of our community is our top priority, which is why Council Chief Executive Nigel Bickle has decided to make Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga a vaccine pass facility. 

“With new community cases in Hastings and the likelihood of Omicron arriving shortly, this decision is about doing what we can to minimise the risks,” Nigel said to the media earlier this week.

“Our Libraries and Art Gallery and the services they provide are hugely important to our community and over the last 18 to 24 months our teams have developed programmes which will enable those who are not vaccinated to still be connected and use our services remotely.”

Our focus is always on how we can be as inclusive at possible, while keeping our most vulnerable safe in our facilities. It’s worth remembering that sites which don’t use vaccine passes are not safe spaces for our vulnerable community members – the elderly, those with disabilities or compromised immune systems and many more. By introducing vaccine passes at the Art Gallery, those members of our community can safely visit and experience the arts again. Also, at the time of writing, 93% of Hawke’s Bay’s residents have had two doses, so we are still able to serve the vast majority within the Gallery.

And for those who have chosen not to be vaccinated, the Art Gallery has free public art walking tours once a month over summer, which simply require 1m social distancing (though masks or face coverings are recommended). To join the tour, meet outside the Art Gallery just before 11am on Saturday, February 26 or March 19.

And to keep the kids occupied for the last of the school holidays, there are free Art-to-Go activity packs, which can be collected contactless from the Art Gallery until the end of January. To arrange this, just call the Art Gallery on 06 871 5095 and give your name and collection time, and a pack will be left just outside the main door.

Photo by John Cowpland/alphapix

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