7 Apr 2024

Arts News: Toi Te Papa & City Gallery Wellington face closures while Christchurch Arts Centre threatens insolvency

From Culture 101, 3:00 pm on 7 April 2024
Te Papa's new art gallery Toi Art is opening, displaying works from the likes of Goldie, Lindauer, Ralph Hotere, Rita Angus and Colin McCahon.

Te Papa's new art gallery Toi Art is opening, displaying works from the likes of Goldie, Lindauer, Ralph Hotere, Rita Angus and Colin McCahon. Photo: Michael O'Neill / Te Papa

The national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa in Poneke Wellington will be closing its upper level of the art gallery Toi Te Papa for at least nine months from the 19th of May.

RNZ's Culture 101 reached out to the museum to confirm after speculation. 

Spokesperson Kate Camp says an inspection in mid-2023 found corrosion within the sprinkler system on the floor and it needs replacement.

While it's unknown exactly how long it will take, Camp says it will likely be at least nine months. 

Level 5 is devoted largely to exhibiting work from the more than 40 thousand artworks in the national art collection. 

Camp would not specify whether room will be made for the national art collection elsewhere.

No other parts of the museum will be affected and she says Level 4 of the art gallery will still be open and showing art. 

Toi Te Papa on Level 4 and 5 - opened in February 2018 costing $8.4 million dollars.

It was described then - as the biggest change since the museum opened in 1998.

The news comes as Experience Wellington confirmed - following RNZ Culture 101's queries - that it's considering the option of temporarily closing the nearby City Gallery Wellington building in Nga Kau Civic Square in June. 

Wellington's City Gallery Te Whare Toi may close temporarily.

This week, new Experience Wellington chief executive Diana Marsh confirmed to RNZ's Culture 101 that it's "currently looking into options" after recently learning its main access way through Te Ngākau Civic Square will be closed from June until February, while demolition work on the nearby Civic Administration Building takes place.

Marsh says this will significantly reduce access along with increased noise and disruption and they need to consider the upcoming exhibition programme, which includes major British filmmaker and artist Derek Jarman in October.

In December, the gallery significantly reduced its weekday opening schedule to a few hours a day to accommodate construction on the city's new library.

Access will continue to be available to the gallery from Harris Street and the City to Sea Bridge.

Diana Marsh started as CEO in March, just as long serving art and heritage director Elizabeth Caldwell left. 

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND, JANUARY 21, 2020: Teece museum at Christchurch, New Zealand

Photo: 123RF

Meanwhile in Ōtautahi Christchurch a standoff between the beloved historic Christchurch Arts Centre and City Council has turned into a war of words - in print - in newspaper The Press. 

The Christchurch City Council's draft Long-Term Plan - out for public consultation until 21 April - makes no provision for The Arts Centre when for the past three years, Council's plan included about on average $1.8 million per year. 

The arts centre is warning that without the council's support the Christchurch Arts Centre Trust will be heading towards insolvency and will have to wind up once the current Council funding runs out on 30 June.

A significant Save the Arts Centre campaign has begun.
Chair Murray Dickinson in The Press noted in the decade or so since the earthquakes, 20 of the 22 damaged Category 1 stone buildings have been restored on time and on budget.

There's been a massive post-earthquake restoration fundraising campaign, and it has managed many commercial tenancies alongside community and public arts and heritage spaces. 

Meanwhile in the same edition commentator Mike Yardley argues - having canvassed, he writes, many senior figures -  that the arts centres demands on the ratepayer are unreasonable, questioning the number of staff and their payment and the centre not having a more financially sustainable model.  

Speaking of our arts and heritage infrastructure, Museums Aotearoa - the industry body for New Zealand's museums and galleries - has recently completed research with its members, and the results look depressingly bleak. This crisis is the impetus behind the Keep the Lights On campaign which on April 15 will see museums and galleries nationally turn off their external lighting as a public display of what could  befall these institutions.

Locals in Rotorua are angry and upset after a beloved statue of a stray dog has been cut from its base and stolen, leaving its bronze paws behind. 

The dog named Harawene roamed near Te Ngae Road - part of State Highway 3.

Harawene was timid and fed daily by locals until she died in 2008.

It is believed the statue is not worth much in scrap metal terms. And while the culprit has not been found, Rotorua sculptor George Andrews has agreed to recreate the bronze work from the original plaster moulds. A dog-loving Auckland farmer Alan Cato has agreed to fund the replacement up to $10,000.

A large mural on the side of a central Dunedin building has gone - 9 years after being painted by Polish artist Natalia Rak.

The colourful image of two children sitting on a park bench - titled Love Is In The Air - on the Mansfield Apartments building on the corner of Bond and Liverpool Sts has been painted over. 

Locals were left wondering why.

On the Facebook page of Dunedin Street Art - the group said the owners needed to undertake repairs to the wall and the group was working with them to replace it.

The owners have indicated they would be keen to host another mural.