2009 Recipient - Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

"The passionate faith that our past and present directors, staff and supporters hold in the power of contemporary art has never wavered. We believe that art breathes life, that it is the essence of what it is to be human, and it's wonderful that this belief has been so resoundingly acknowledged by the Arts Foundation."
- Rhana Devenport, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, was the recipient of the Arts Foundation's Governors' Award in 2009.

Established through a bequest and Trust Deed from the forward thinking New Plymouth resident Monica Brewster, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has become a contemporary art museum recognised internationally for its global vision and special commitment to the Pacific. The Gallery maintains its own contemporary art collection and the collection of modernist filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye in addition to presenting a dynamic exhibitions and events programme. Considered a pathfinder in this country's cultural landscape, it works to foster the development and interpretation of contemporary art by developing new audiences and new possibilities for artists within contemporary culture.

The Govett-Brewster celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2010.  With this goal in mind, it undertook several vigorous projects including offering its Collection on-line, interpreting its history in a major publication and undertaking an ambitious exhibition, acquisition and international programme.  The Govett-Brewster made a documentary of its 40th birthday party, with commentary from Director Rhana Devenport.

In making their selection, Arts Foundation Governors acknowledged the singular commitment by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth to the cause of contemporary art, particularly from Aotearoa New Zealand, over the last four decades. Governors noted that the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has unswervingly followed a path of presenting leading edge contemporary art from the outset, and that a succession of able directors has brought to New Plymouth a programme that one might more readily have expected in one of New Zealand's larger cities. The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has set a benchmark for commitment to the "new."

The Governors also noted that the city of New Plymouth, and its community, has steadfastly supported the Gallery and art in the community, including Len Lye's Wind Wand, demonstrating an appreciation of the importance contemporary art which belies the size of the city and its regional location. This civic leadership and commitment to new art is greatly admired by the Governors, and the New Plymouth District Council and staff of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (past and present) are warmly congratulated.

On receiving the Governors' Award current Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director Rhana Devenport said "the Gallery is deeply honoured by the recognition of its remarkable achievements over the past four decades."

In 2011, the Govett-Brewster received the inaugural Big 'A' Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award in recognition of its work in becoming more accessible to the disabled.