So says our resident art commentator Roy Dunningham in his latest article for BayBuzz Digest.
Roy believes the Hastings City Art Gallery could serve as the heart of Hastings. But, he says, “Years of neglect have left the HCAG seriously under-developed and under-resourced.” In fact, he makes the case that the Gallery is “unsustainable at current funding levels.”
With proper support for the Gallery, here’s Roy’s vision of the role it could play:
“An Opus International survey 10 years ago asked what people liked most about Hastings. The responses focussed mainly on things outside the city. Hastings, it seems, was like the tin man in “The Wizard of Oz” – lacking a heart. The excellent Council redevelopment of the CBD has certainly improved things, but there is still work to be done. Hastings will never be a “city of the seven hills” or the “Venice of the South,” but it has always had energetic and creative people from the arts community through to business people like Sir James Wattie and our winemakers … and that is our strength.
New Zealanders are becoming increasingly aware and knowledgeable about art. Each year about 1,000 Hawke’s Bay secondary students study art at senior level. We have two full time tertiary art schools and increasingly people are looking to the arts to express community pride and identity.
We don’t have a huge past to focus on in Hastings, but we do have a dynamic present and future. With our full support, a flourishing Hastings City Art Gallery would proclaim our self belief and would provide a heart for our city.”