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‘Passionate’ pitch brings it home

A “professional and passionate” pitch to South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] by an art collective last week has secured it a long-term home at the Old Library building on Greytown’s Main Street.

Te Hupenui Greytown Artists Incorporated – who have occupied the historic building in Stella Bull Park temporarily for the past eight months – made their bid for a long-term lease to the council’s strategy working committee with a video produced by Wairarapa photographer and filmmaker Terry Wreford-Hann.

It was the latest stage in an application process that started in February, when the collective submitted an expression of interest for the building’s lease with a proposal to create an “inclusive, vibrant, and energetic creative space where all are welcome, regardless of ability, ethnicity, culture, or age”, their proposal said.

Speaking to the Times-Age shortly after SWDC councillor Martin Bosely called the group with the good news, Esther Bunning, the collective’s chairperson, called SWDC’s decision “a game changer”.

“Everything has been in limbo for such a long time now, that to actually have certainty moving forward is just brilliant,” Bunning said.

“It’s just everything – from our signage, which has been temporary, to even the way we’ve got the art displayed in the gallery. Being actually able to plan for spring is amazing.”

There is “lots of hard work ahead”, said artist Rebecca Kempton, who is one of the collective’s founding members, including setting up proper governance arrangements and policies and procedures.

“We now need to put all of that firmly in place for the future so we can cater to the entire creative community in Wairarapa.”

Reflecting on the collective’s development over the past eight months, Kempton called it “a really organic journey”.

“And we’ve learned so much. We’ve got advice from outside of the collective, and we’ve got some great supporters we were able to access who have a lot of experience in running galleries and being curators.”

The “key” to the group’s success “is the people”, Kempton said.

“I think having this artists’ collective, and having the buy-in from the collective, it’s just created this incredible community. It means we all get to exhibit in Greytown, we all get to be part of something that we’ve created, which is super special.”

“This transformation of the Old Library building has the potential to become the heartbeat of the town, bringing residents together and enhancing their quality of life,” Bosley said.

“Not only does the group showcase talented artists from around the district, but the additional value they bring in the form of initiatives such as workshops and their commitment to Te Ao Māori only strengthens why they deserve to be here,” he said.

“We wholeheartedly support this group as being a vital asset to not only their local community but to the wider South Wairarapa district.”

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