Forwarding the latest CoCA update:
COCA Update: April 2011
The Centre of Contemporary Art gallery will remain closed for the next eighteen months to two years.
The building has suffered minor damage in the quake but much of the Cultural Precinct is now very badly damaged. We face years of rebuilding as a city before we can again operate in a normal environment.
Since the early 1880â€™s The Canterbury Society of Arts has played an important role in Canterbury and New Zealand visual arts. However in more recent years the gallery has struggled to cover its costs. Increasingly outgoings have not been matched by income. Seventeen years ago the Society was faced with the same problem. Faced with closure or sale of assets, members chose to sell all but a few of the art works in the permanent collection. The members overwhelmingly supported keeping the other asset, the building at 66 Gloucester St. The gallery was renamed The Centre of Contemporary Art and focused its efforts on raising money by hiring exhibition space and selling artworks.
With the establishment of the Christchurch City Art Gallery close by, The Centre of Contemporary Art has enjoyed the foot traffic and general support that the Cultural Precinct has provided.
The 22 Feb earthquake came just as the Trust advertised for a curator/director to lead the gallery into an exciting future. The intention was (and still is) to return to the â€˜original objectivesâ€™ of the founding members and focus on the galleryâ€™s core business, which is the facilitation of contemporary art.
The aim is to present the highest calibre of stimulating and relevant exhibitions that resources permit. The dealer aspect of the gallery compromises this and is to be deleted in favor of a broader more encompassing exhibition programme funded by a mix of corporate sponsorship and funding grants.
The aim is to be the most innovative, responsive and publicly engaged contemporary art gallery in New Zealand.
The quake of 22 Feb has dramatically shifted the city focus and shifted economic priorities. The plan is not feasible at this time and it is obvious that it may not be for several years.
While the gallery enjoys the security of being the freehold owner of a purpose-built gallery the cost of maintaining this in addition to staffing the gallery has not been matched by income. There has been a dramatic lull in art sales due to the national and global economic situation. This will be exacerbated by the Christchurch earthquake. To continue to operate as before is not an economically viable solution. Reliance on sales is just not an option when audience access is in doubt and to â€œrally on as usualâ€ would inevitably result in debt and asset loss.
It would be difficult to seek sponsorship and support for the arts post the quake when the Christchurch City Council and businesses are rightly occupied with re-establishing the cityâ€™s basic infrastructure.
To protect The Centre of Contemporary Artâ€™s assets at this extraordinary time the Board sees no alternative but to close the gallery and rent the space for a period of approximately 2 years..
There is no doubt of the artistic support in the community but the business community
is not going to be able to give the level of support that it would have before 22 Feb.
The trustees are committed to re-opening the gallery. The funds accumulated by renting the building will help establish a strong financial position to re-open and be a part of the exciting future of Christchurch.
If Christchurch is to both retain and attract people it must offer an intellectual environment that is stimulating, provocative, beautiful, challenging and fun and it must have venues and institutions where artists can present their work. The Centre of Contemporary Art has a significant part to play in Christchurchâ€™s re-build.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU
The trustees of the Centre of Contemporary Art wish to thank all those amazing people who have voluntarily given time and materials to assist us in the mammoth task of packing up and returning works to artists, documenting damaged works for the insurance claim, packing up the Centre of Contemporary Arts own collection etc etc..
We have been overwhelmed by such generosity of help and support.
Special thanks to:
David Wooding (artist)
Judith Taylor (Te Papa National Services te Paerangi Museum)
Ian Wards (Te Papa National Services te Paerangi Museum)
Peter Vangioni (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Lynda Wallace (Akaroa Museum)
Dan Smith (Akaroa Museum)
Brenda Nightingale (artist)
Sean Duxfield (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Lynn Campbell (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Neil Semple (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Chris Pole (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Tim JonesÂ (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Scott Jackson (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Nathan Pohio (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Peter Bray (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Chris Pole (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Simon Lawrence (Christchurch Art Gallery)
Jenny Chen (Curatorial Studies Intern, University of Canterbury)
Jan Walker (Volunteer, Canterbury Museum)
Yvonne Hart (Volunteer, Canterbury University)
And to Wigram Air Force Museum for storing our permanentÂ collection.
The trustees also wish to especially thank the staff who returned to assist. That has been invaluable and very much appreciated.
We thank you all, especially knowing that at this extraordinary time, ours is not the only clean up job on your To Do lists.
The Trustees of the Centre of Contemporary Art.