Hillary Austin pictured preparing for Foundation’s launch a year ago.
The future of Leigh’s Foundation Gallery & Arts Hub hangs in the balance unless immediate funding can be found to keep the enterprise going.
Australian artist Hillary Austin and her husband Richard Calder opened the gallery and art class space in Totara Road last December and have run regular exhibitions and tuition for artists of all abilities and ages throughout the year.
However, while class fees cover the rent and a few materials, the couple can no longer afford to keep Foundation going from their own pockets and are now appealing to local businesses and residents for help to keep classes running. Applications for grants and sponsorship have so far yielded nothing, so they have set up an online appeal via Go Fund Me.
Hillary said although Foundation was started as “a private enterprise with a degree of altruism”, there were limits to how much they could do without some serious backing.
“It’s been a tough year,” she said. “We’ve achieved all that we wanted to and more, but at massive personal cost.
“We have lots more projects we want to run next year, but it’s just a case of survival at the moment.”
Foundation’s linchpin is its Barefoot Artists education programme for children, with several weekly after school and weekend classes and comprehensive school holiday activities, which attract participants from Pakiri, Warkworth, Snells Beach and Matakana as well as from Leigh itself.
“The programme is great and all the kids are doing such fabulous things,” Hillary said. “We’re hoping to continue into the New Year, but we need immediate funding.”
Money raised would help with the development of a two-year teaching programme, buy materials and fund outside help on large scale projects.
“We believe that our programme offers many positive benefits to a wide range of people and it would be a very great shame if we were unable to carry on,” Hillary said.
Donations to support Foundation can be made at gofundme.com/f/help-the-foundation-leigh-arts-hub-fund