Local business backs culture

Small businesses are the unsung heroes of the arts, investing their time and money to further culture in the community, despite these difficult economic times.

For Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, the survival of its popular art prize, STILL: National Still Life Award, is down to the generosity of small business sponsors. Without their support, the gallery couldn’t offer the $35,000 prize pool necessary to attract high-calibre artists from all over Australia or stage the exhibition promoting the Coffs Coast as a destination for still life.

Gallery Coordinator Catherine Fogarty says art initiatives like STILL rely on sponsorship but further funding is needed to develop a vibrant, creative community for the Coffs Coast; a population on the rise but facing declining state and federal arts funding.

“Ideally more organisations would inject sponsorship dollars into cultural activities like they do for sport,” says Ms Fogarty. “We know the arts plays an important role in attracting investment, professionals and visitors to the regions.”

“The Coffs Coast is going through a cultural renaissance with creative enterprises flourishing like SWIFF, Alykat, The Art Dept and Russell Crowe’s plans for film studios here. This commitment is changing the face of Coffs and confirms culture is vital for a thriving community and economy.”

Both major sponsors of STILL 2021 are local businesses who recognise the arts as a worthy investment in their community, from a financial contribution by Bryant McKinnon Lawyers, to in-kind design expertise from saso.creative.

Supporting sponsors for STILL include Moving Art who manage delivery of the artworks; family winery Andrew Peace Wines; Harbour Magazine regional arts guide; and Friends of Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery whose fundraising helps the gallery acquire works for the collection.

According to renowned Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE, art awards like STILL have a critical role in supporting creative industries.

“It is a really significant source of funds importantly but also another way for a very diverse range of artists to get their work seen,” said Ms Macgregor when judging this year’s STILL Award.

The winning sculpture, Silent Cop 2020, by Dunghutti artist Blak Douglas will be a drawcard for visitors into the future as a permanent part of the collection, along with past STILL winners.

“You have at Coffs Harbour for this year’s iteration of the prize, an exhibition of extraordinary quality… This is an award that can only grow in stature,” adds Ms Macgregor.

The gallery invites any potential sponsors for the next STILL Award in 2023 or other exhibitions in the new gallery at Yarrila Place now being built, to email gallery@chcc.nsw.gov.au

Sponsors Benjamin Bryant Heather McKinnon