Society’s no-show at BRAG

JUST WAIT: Bundaberg painter and member of the Bundaberg Art Society Austen Whittaker is disappointed he and the group won't be able to show their works at the BRAG gallery for another 4-6 years. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
JUST WAIT: Bundaberg painter and member of the Bundaberg Art Society Austen Whittaker is disappointed he and the group won't be able to show their works at the BRAG gallery for another 4-6 years. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

BUNDABERG artists are disgusted after being told they could not show their work at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery for at least four years.

Bundaberg Art Society life member Austen Whitaker said the group was sent a letter "out of the blue" from BRAG exhibitions officer Trudie Leigo telling them their exhibition planned for September this year at BRAG was cancelled, "effective immediately".

Ms Leigo told the group their work would not be exhibited at BRAG again until 2017.

The planned exhibition was instead transferred to Childers Arts Space (CHARTS) to be on display in 2015.

Mr Whitaker said he and the group were disappointed and disgusted they would not be able to show in their home town until 2017.

"I'm 88 years of age - I'll be bloody dead in four to six years," he said.

Bundaberg Art Society secretary Stan Greenwood replied to Ms Leigo's letter.

"Thank you for your letter ... I'm sure it was as distasteful for you to write as it is for our Bundaberg Art Society to receive," Mr Greenwood wrote.

Mr Greenwood wrote of how distressed the group was to be able to show at the BRAG gallery only once every four to six years.

"Just think, a 16-year-old hopeful artist will probably be married with children before her next opportunity comes around to show her friends what she can do," he wrote.

 

Bundaberg Regional Council community services spokeswoman Judy Peters said the society's exhibition timing was being brought into line to be equitable with other arts groups, and that the two-year timeframe gave members more time to develop their works for exhibition.

"BRAG staff responded to the arts society's original letter of concern. It was further clarified during the meeting between BRAG staff, manager David Cornwell, myself and the arts society executive (including life member Austen Whittaker)," Cr Peters said.

"A good relationship and communication system was established from our meeting for the future and a better understanding of the need for regional focus and the standard for national touring exhibitions that BRAG has established," she said.

Cr Peters said the gallery had existing agreements with community organisations for annual and biennial exhibitions.

"No further scheduled annual or biennial type exhibitions will be permitted in any gallery space," she said.

"Any exhibition application is considered by an exhibitions committee made up of council representatives and artists from our region."

In a letter Mr Whittaker wrote to the council he said he could not imagine any other metropolis similar in size to Bundaberg ostracising a local art society from using a council art gallery.

"The bloody art gallery belongs to us, it belongs to the people - it belongs to the ratepayers," he told the NewsMail.



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