In the summer of 1947 a group of aspiring artists in Pittsburgh frequented a gallery called The Outline every Sunday evening for a series of informal events aimed to broaden exposure to the arts and above all entertain. Events included showing experimental film, drawing, meeting visiting artists, critics and curators, and on one occasion viewing their first real Picasso (allegedly 'borrowed' from a New York institution). A couple of people in this group went on to be become fairly prominent artists – Philip Pearlstein and Andy Warhol.
A little closer to home, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth has been holding a monthly event named after the Gallery's founding patron Monica Brewster (nee Govett) since around 2001. Titled the Monica Brewster Club, it's by-line is "entertaining speakers, contemporary art, excellent food and fine wine in the ambience of the Gallery". This takes place in the gallery's theatre, and has featured an astounding range of speakers from right across the creative industries. For $10 you get beer, wine, cheese, and enlightenment from iconic figures such as Marti Friedlander, Dorenda Britton, Miranda Harcourt, Howard Grieves etc. A lot of great people have been regular attendees at these events, including a few great artists, though it's still too soon to determine if the MBC will have a similar impact on anyone as viewing his first avant-garde films had on Andy Warhol.
My point is that there is a tradition here and anecdotal evidence it can deliver good outcomes. For all Wellington's efforts to become the Creative Capital, and good occasional showings from Enjoy and City, there's still a lot of room for more to be happening. So watch this space.
Make it click:
Monica Brewster Club
Upcoming Prospect talks at City Gallery