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Old Library tenant decision due

The future of Greytown’s Old Library building on Main St will soon become clearer when South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] makes a decision on expressions of interest to lease the building in early June.

A council spokesperson confirmed that a report will be presented to the Strategy Working Committee on June 5, when the successful proposal will be decided.

However, the SWDC declined to answer Times-Age’s questions about how many expressions of interest it had received for the building, or the criteria being used to assess the applications ahead of the committee meeting.

SWDC decided to seek expressions of interest [EOI] from businesses and the community wishing to enter into a long-term lease at a council meeting on November 22 last year.

One group that’s thrown its hat in the ring is Te Hūpēnui Greytown Gallery of Contemporary and Fine Art – a collective of over 20 artists from across the region.

The collective has occupied the Old Library on a temporary basis since late last year, paying the casual weekly hire rate of $625.

Greytown photographer Rebecca Kempton, one of the collective’s founder members, said they are guaranteed a home there until the end of July.

The rapid growth of the collective and the success of its retail gallery and community events meant submitting a proposal for a formal long-term lease was a “no brainer”, she said.

“We submitted our application in February and had to demonstrate we met all the council’s community outcomes in terms of social, cultural, economic, and environmental wellbeing, which we did.”

“We said in our application that we are planning a programme of events over the next year that include free workshops, artist talks, and demonstrations. It is – and will continue to be – a vibrant and energetic creative space where all are welcome, regardless of ability, ethnicity, culture, or age.”

“We’ve also provided over 30 people with employment and income and a place for the artists in our collective to work from seven days a week,” Kempton said.

During the application process, SWDC staff asked Te Hūpēnui for additional information, including which of the collective’s proposed events would be free and how much it could pay for the lease.

“I took the opportunity to confirm with the council that 100 per cent of the building will be available for use by the creative community and that our proposed 28 workshops based in the gallery and funded by the Incorporated Society we have formed to support our work would be free.

“We can’t afford to pay full commercial rent,” Kempton said. “But we’ve submitted under the ‘community banner’, and I think we have more than demonstrated our value to the community.”

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