Both organisations commit what is now regarded as sin in the eyes of this Board, they attract tourists to the island. It is left to Shirin ‘Sustainability’ Brown, Deputy Chair of the Board, to determine which tourists meet her definition of ‘sustainable’ and therefore worthy of support and which not. The Wine Vintage Festival and Community Art Gallery obviously don’t cut the mustard.
As I predicted long ago the Waiheke Art Gallery would be a big loser under this Waiheke Local Board. Previous Boards have always supported the work of the Gallery which showcases Waiheke artists, encourages new artists and is a tourist attraction at the gateway to the island. The Green Party have made their disdain for our Anzac heroes well know so perhaps it was no surprise that their Board would not fund an exhibition commemorating the Great War, but Boards have always supported the Gallery’s Summer Schools which encourage a range of artistic disciplines including poetry, sculpture, print design, and collage as well as painting. Not any more.
This is a sad reflection on our Philistine Board members who have made no secret of their disdain for the arts and the Art Gallery in particular. I well remember Paul Walden, Chair of the Board, describing the Community Art Gallery as ‘elitist’ and funding the arts a waste of ratepayer’s money. Successive Boards have advocated strongly to the Governing Body for the excellent work of the Waiheke Community Art Gallery to be recognised at regional level and so attract regional funding. The Governing Body is hardly likely to listen when the Waiheke Local Board refuses to support them for two of their major initiatives.
Waiheke Winegrowers represent one of the biggest, if not the biggest, employers on the island. They are exporters of quality wine and importers of quality tourism. This year they started a week long festival to celebrate the new vintage of Waiheke wines. It was an outstanding success. There was a big increase in visitors to the island that benefited just about every business directly or indirectly and thus every family on the island. But are they ‘sustainable’ tourists? Obviously not according to our Commissar of ‘sustainability’ so, once again, the task of promoting the island’s economy is left to business owners and organisations.
How the Board chooses to spend our money, or rather deprive us of our money in the case of this Board, tells us about their priorities, not those of the community. It begs the question, do they serve any useful purpose at all? This is something I will be examining in the days ahead as the Board nears the one year in office mark.