Nearly 40 years ago the predecessor of the current Arts Council Nelson was founded. A small number
of enthused Nelsonians produced a Pot Pourri of cultural entertainment called the Nelson Event
including Jazz, films, poetry, folk, singing and visual art exhibitions. The same group joined with
others in setting up the Nelson Provincial Arts Council.
People involved in these early days were Chris Hay, Eelco Boswijk, Geoff Heath, Dave Andrews and
In 1969 the Nelson Provincial Arts Council (NPAC) was founded, with the
following founding objective:
“To encourage, promote and coordinate the study, practice and enjoyment of the arts in the
province of Nelson and to promote and encourage the public awareness of their existence, their
function and their value in the community.”
Nelson continued to be at the forefront of developing the arts:
The Nelson City Council was the first local authority to allocate 0.7 % of general rates to the
arts – the NPAC was nominated to administer these funds
In 1976 the first Nelson Arts Festival took place; grants to over $ 22,000 were allocated to
assist touring performances in Nelson. The cultural calendar in the Nelson Mail changes from
monthly to weekly.
The 1980s saw another new direction for ACN under the guidance of Chairperson John Wheeler.
Working virtually full-time in a voluntary capacity, John encouraged the organisation to take on
paid staff. In 1982 paid staffing became available on a permanent basis with the appointment of
Claudia Reid as the first Community Arts Officer.
Paid staffing signalled a marked change in the nature of the organisation, as it greatly
expanded the scope and range of activities the Arts Council could undertake. As a consequence seeds
were sown and projects nurtured which facilitated the growth of Nelson into the prime arts and
cultural destination it has now become. The benefits of the full-time appointment have been
maintained through the following personnel until the present day.
Claudia Reid (1982 - 83)
Jennifer Brett (1983 - 84)
Robbie Burton (1984 - 90)
Trix Dyer (1990 - 1996)
Mags Meechang (1996 - 1998)
Lloyd Harwood (1998 - present).