Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment will highlight the role Central Bank of The Bahamas has played in developing the country’s visual arts community since its founding. Organizers intend the show to commemorate Central Bank’s commitment to serving as a reservoir of wealth in both financial and cultural spheres. The exhibition will showcase over 80 works by 72 artists featured in Central Bank’s extensive art collection. Curated by NAGB Director Amanda Coulson, the show opens on June 2.
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) was founded in 2003, thirty years after the formation of our nation. By the time its doors finally opened, therefore, the local art scene was well-established and had been supported along the way by other enterprises that came before it, most notably The Central Bank of The Bahamas.
The Central Bank, founded one year after independence in 1974, had an early commitment to the arts, initially through the purchase of works. As a proud Bahamian institution, it was imperative that the people both working and visiting the bank saw images that reflected our identity and spoke to our natural assets and the bank protected our financial assets. As well as commissioned works by more mature artists, the Central Bank also acquired winning pieces from their established annual art competitions, which became the local scene’s focal points for the entire year and generated much excitement in the community.
Through the “Governor’s Choice” award and other prize categories, younger artists were given a boost in confidence, while others were awarded financial support for continued studies in the field. The Central Bank’s steady and gradual collecting habit laid the foundations for what today is a major and important Bahamian art anthology. Due to the longevity of its activity and support, the Central Bank is one of the local collections that has a broad overview and also shows the roots and beginnings of our entire art scene, as well as those of some of our now-famous practitioners. In talking to local artists, many speak to the Central Bank as being the source of their early support and extra drive that many artists need to gain the confidence to continue on their chosen path.
It is not an exaggeration to say that without this important institution, the Bahamian art scene would not be what it is today. It was an honour, therefore, for the NAGB to be allowed the access to the collection and to be the host to an exhibition that revealed the extent of the Central Bank’s support to the wider Bahamian public. Through its generous support, the NAGB was further able to invite all Bahamians free of charge for a month and in that period we saw a huge increase local visitor numbers.
The Central Bank has always been an important partner since our foundation; we thank them—the many employees as well as the current and former Governors—for their support and vision, as we look to the future toward a continued partnership to the benefit of Bahamian arts and culture.
Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment opens at 6 p.m. on June 2 at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Also that night, the inaugural exhibition of the Double Dutch project, 50/50, starring works by Blue Curry and Bermudian artist James Cooper will open at the NAGB. For more information on the NAGB’s upcoming exhibitions, contact the gallery at 328-5800 or visit its website at nagb.org.bs