This is something of a good news / bad news message. Unfortunately it has now become abundantly clear that our much-hoped for reopening in July is not going to happen. Rest assured, the Gallery building is still sound, and will reopen.
However, at present it is still needed to house a large number of council and CERA staff as they work on the rebuild of Christchurch, and where previously we had art on our walls, now we have ideas, plans, buzz words and concepts. In many ways it's extremely appropriate that the Gallery maintains its position as a creative hub for the city – there is a real sense of purpose and creation coming from the occupied galleries, and it's quite exciting. Added to the continued use of our facilities is the fact that there's some remediation to be done inside this building, and that the Gallery apartments beside us are, like so many buildings around the city, scheduled for demolition. We'd dearly love to be open by the end of the year, and that's a possibility if everything runs super-smoothly. But the sheer number of factors in play means that, at this stage, it could just as easily be early 2012.
Of course, we're extremely disappointed that we can't reopen yet. But like everyone else affected by the earthquake, we are fighting hard to create something positive from the chaos. Which brings us to the good news. Together, our staff are working on a number of exciting new projects with the aim of breaking the Gallery out of these walls – if you can't come to the Gallery yet, then we'll try to bring a little of the Gallery to you.
Among the projects we're working on are some exciting website developments, which will not only allow us to better present online exhibitions, but will allow you to curate, save and share shows. We're also developing our mobile-web capabilities to keep us at the forefront of new technology use by galleries. And we've really got stuck into the blogging, pouring out tons of new content and commentary to keep art on all of our minds. We're looking at getting our public programme up and running, and hope to restart the artbite programme of lunchtime lectures. We'll be working with Gapfiller to get art on the city walls, and taking images and objects into our 'outer spaces'. We've got a special earthquake edition of Bulletin underway, which will include a feature on new art being made in Christchurch now. And we're even looking at taking art out to see you. Add to that all the huge amount of essential cataloguing, clearing, filing and reporting that we're doing as we use this period of enforced closure to clear backlogs and start on projects that previously we just didn't have the time to do, and it's a very busy time.
In short, watch this space. As we finalise our plans we'll make announcements though the press and this website. We're very excited by the plans afoot for the next few months.