Major funding boost for Mahara Gallery

The project which seeks to transform Mahara Gallery to bring it up to professional gallery standard has received a major boost following donations this year totaling some $270,000.

Mahara Gallery Trust Board Chairman, Professor Les Holborow, says the latest donation of $100,000 from an anonymous local donor, has been a welcome addition to three substantial donations received since the beginning of the year.

They include Professor Holborow’s own recent donation of $100,000 towards the cost of the $5.2m project which would enable the Gallery to accept the gift of the Field Collection.

The proposed Athfield Architects designed Mahara Gallery “The most recent donation is a generous gesture for which we are extremely grateful,” said Professor Holborow. “It is an expression of confidence in the project and, in partnership with Kāpiti Coast District Council and the Field Collection Trust, our ability to make it a reality.”

A design by leading firm Athfield Architects has already been approved and a resource consent granted which will create a modern, fit-for-purpose, district art gallery to replace the current building which was originally the Waikanae library.

“The design doubles the number of galleries in the building and triples the effective exhibition space,” said Professor Holborow. “It also creates space for the community to use the Gallery and be involved in our public programmes.

“One of the new building’s features will be a dedicated storage area and exhibition space for the Field Collection. This will enable us to accept the gift to the Gallery of the collection of 44 art works and associated documents, 24 of them paintings by Frances Hodgkins, New Zealand’s most celebrated expatriate painter.

“The offer has significant implications for the Kāpiti district. We would have the fourth largest collection of Hodgkins’ works in public ownership in New Zealand and the most significant outside Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.

“Apart from its cultural significance, it would create a valuable visitor attraction for Kāpiti and provide a welcome boost to the Waikanae economy. But to accept it, we must have a gallery and storage facilities that meet accepted international standards.

Kāpiti Coast District Council and the Waikanae Community Board have agreed to fund one third of the cost, provided the Gallery Trust Board raises the remaining money.

“Projects which involve the upgrade of regional arts-related facilities and the retention and preservation of significant art collections, often receive significant funding from Crown and Crown-related sources,” said Professor Holborow.

“We currently have applications lodged with agencies which, if successful, will bring us close to our target and enable us to advance to the construction stage.

“We are also conscious that one of the side-effects of the Covid 19 crisis has been to create a desire for near-ready projects to be accelerated. In our view, the Gallery redevelopment is an ideal project for rapid implementation.”