By Julie Iles
The half a dozen empty Carterton shop fronts will soon act as studios for young artists as part of a new scholarship programme.
Toi Wairarapa and Heart of Arts are partnering on the initiative to bring more vibrancy and youth to the town.
Chair of Toi Wairarapa Greg Lang said the programme would offer 6-month scholarships to art graduate students, who would be paired with another graduate to operate an open studio in the Carterton CBD, 7 days a week.
Mr Lang said if all goes according to plan, they would start to put the building blocks together for the project to look at the mid-year university graduates of next year.
“They don’t have to be art students, it could be design students, it could be anyone who is artisan based… as long as they’re passionate about making a career in what they’re doing,” he said.
Mr Lang has been a trustee for Toi Wairarapa since 2009. He is running as an incumbent for Carterton District Council. Supporting young artists was something Mr Lang said he was passionate about, being an artisan himself. He and his wife, Ali Lang are wheelwright and carriage builders who have run The Wheelwright Shop in Gladstone since 1994.
“Arts are a hard road, being a realist, when you’re starting off you can’t just survive on your art or your trade, so having a scholarship, helping arrange alternative employment in the town, and accommodation would help.”
The artists who are granted the scholarship will be able to sell their art out of the studio space as well, and receive business and creative mentorship from the established creative hub in Carterton.
The Toi Wairarapa has 400 artists in its database that are regularly exhibiting, said Mr Lang.
Toi Wairarapa was once principally funded by the three district councils, but is now only funded by Carterton District Council. The organisation receives $16,000 a year.
“As an organisation we struggle with funds and our local business community has come on board and is helping, but we’ve got to support our own viability as well,” says Mr Lang.
The program would have its preliminary launch on November 3 at the Heart of the Arts.
He was hoping to raise money for the scholarships with the help of the local business community and has already talked to some landlords of the empty storefronts who have offered their spaces for free or a reduced rate.
“In a world today where everything is uniformed and boxed, to have a creative element is quite good.”