There were more smiles than we have ever seen on our islands.
It was the announcement of the winners of the Girt by Sea Art Exhibition.
The Russell Island Recreation Hall was packed with contestants, families and island art supporters.
When the winners were announced and rewarded, the applause was generous and those who did not win were just as happy for those who did.
After all, artists do it for the love of the art, and not the financial reward.
So, to have nearly $100,000 handed out to sculptors and painters in the art form, was astounding indeed.
Most, however, are not aware of the behind-the-scenes effort that was alluded to at the presentation by Mayor Karen Williams.
She was stunned by Cr Mark Edwards’ ability to first establish this prize and the implications it will have for the islands and future directions.
One person who does understand is the ’Father’ of island art, Ted Upton.
Ted has always had the goal to make our island a ‘home’ for artists from everywhere to come and make our islands their ‘new island artistic home’.
That objective has always been the goal of Cr Edwards who saw an opportunity to find funding that no-one else could; and snapped it up for his Redland City Council seat of the Redlands, a large part of which is our Bay Islands.
It has also been an objective of your Friendly Bay Islander. There has hardly been an edition of our publication that has not contained a story about our island arts.
Most have seen Cr Edwards making announcements and handing out prizes.
What they don’t see is his professional financial knowledge and his astute political judgement that was required to obtain the almost $100,000 a year for the Girt by Sea prize that was available to just one council art prize only via a special form of council funding.
He was the only one to see the opportunity and to snare it for the Redlands and our islands.
It has taken two years of negotiations and manoeuvrings and many hours of political astuteness to make it happen.
Every other council ward could have snared the prize if they had Cr Edwards as their representative.
Fortunately, he is ours.
So it was confounding when some in the island art industry don’t quite get it.
Next year artists from North Stradbroke Island and Coochiemudlo Island will be encouraged to take part and will be in line for some of the wonderful prize money.
Also next year, the Girt by Sea event will finally fall into line with the 4 Islands Festival which will make it an extravaganza.
In the meantime, the word is spreading fast of the opportunities to the art world of the fantastic prizes and art that is the Girt by Sea annual Art Exhibition.