Seven floors of Space - Wellington's new Arts Centre

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The first phase of Wellington's new arts centre will be opening soon at 61-69 Abel Smith Street, with programming, studio spaces, rehearsal rooms, and other resources available from May onward.…

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The first phase of Wellington's new arts centre will be opening soon at 61-69 Abel Smith Street, with programming, studio spaces, rehearsal rooms, and other resources available from May onward.

Contractors are finishing up the first stages of interior refit, one film production company has already relocated to the administrative spaces, the first twelve studio artists have been selected, and new creative projects and ideas are already buzzing about the place (along with plenty of contractors and tradesmen).
The first phase of Wellington's new arts centre will be opening soon at 61-69 Abel Smith Street, with programming, studio spaces, rehearsal rooms, and other resources available from May onward.

Contractors are finishing up the first stages of interior refit, one film production company has already relocated to the administrative spaces, the first twelve studio artists have been selected, and new creative projects and ideas are already buzzing about the place (along with plenty of contractors and tradesmen).
"It's such an exciting step to be making," said Wellington Arts Advisor Eric Holowacz, who will be moving offices from the existing arts centre in the Oriental Bay Rotunda to the new two-building facility in Abel Smith Street. "There will be seven floors of space, with an emphasis on creative production and arts practice, as well as a diversity of ideas, disciplines, and developments in every corner."

Wellington City Council has spent the past two years talking to the creative community, building the policy and budget support, studying the trends of local cultural production, and trying to put the right pieces together for a bold new arts space.

"By my reckoning, it has come together nicely," remarked Holowacz, "but in a way that will place the focus on the creative people working and collaborating there and in our city. The sculptors, film-makers, writers, producers, guitarists, and arts managers will be the ones energising and shaping the centre, once the physical facility is fully refurbished and populated (expected in July 2005). Even after July, the approach will be to let new ideas come about organically, to shed under-utilised skin, and always adapt to cultural and creative needs ever-after."

An outline of some of the initial resources that will be offered follows. Those interested in any of these, as well as those seeking arts programmes and services in Wellington, should contact Holowacz on 385-1929 or arts@wcc.govt.nz

STUDIOS
The new arts centre will contain 28 artist studio spaces on two floors, with rents beginning at $50/week (gst and utilities included). Deadline to apply for a studio is April 11, and the selection will be guided by an advisory panel. The emphasis of studios will be to support emerging and early-career artists, working in any medium or discipline. However, all applications and levels will be considered. Studios will be offered for up to two years. The Studio floors also include a wet/clean up area, common room, kitchen facility, and photographic darkroom.

COMMUNITY ARTS FACILITIES
The new arts centre will house a complex of meeting and workshops rooms, designed for community art courses, instruction, lectures, and group assemblies. Existing term courses and arts activities, currently offered at the Oriental Bay Rotunda location, will be transferred to the new centre in late April. Those interested in offering creative workshops or classes, from beginner to advanced specialist, should contact the new arts centre for details.

OFFICE AND PROJECT SPACE
The new facility will also provide a home to small and large cultural organisations, event managers, and arts-based producers. Permanent administrative space, presently being assigned, ranges from one-room offices to larger office clusters or open plan suites. Information for prospective tenants is now available. For seasonal or variable-staffed organisations, the centre will also offer a separate project space with hot desks and work stations that can be booked for casual, short-term, and seasonal use.

REHEARSAL SPACES
The centre will also comprise a performance/rehearsal space with a seating capacity of 50-75, a studio-sized performance rehearsal space, storage for props and gear, and three sound-proofed music rooms. All of these will be hired hourly, and can be booked from mid April on.

EXHIBITION SPACE
The arts centre lobby will open to a dedicated exhibition space. This gallery will focus on the artists working within the centre, as well as exhibitions proposed by emerging curators, local and national visual arts organisations, and partner events. An application framework will be developed in late April, and expressions of interest for the May-July exhibitions can be made at any time.

NETWORKING AND ADVANCEMENT
The arts centre's periodic email alert, The No.8 Wire, began last year as an attempt to regularly connect a short list of creative people in Wellington. It has grown to include over 750 email contacts, who receive, contribute to, and (hopefully) take advantage of the arts opportunities highlighted in each issue. Content comprises 30 or 40 items of note, a transcribed interview with a Wellington creative person, links to informative articles in other journals or websites, quotes, and details about funding, jobs, commissions, and collaborations. This week marks the 30th edition of Wellington's No.8 Wire. To request one in your in-box, send an email to arts@wcc.govt.nz and ask to be added. To inspect past editions and interviews, point your browser to www.arts.blogspot.com

After April 18, if you're in the neighbourhood, stop by Wellington's new arts centre. The facility is at 61-69 Abel Smith Street (former Board of Education buildings in back of Real Groovy Records), between Cuba and Victoria Streets.

For more information:
Eric Holowacz
Wellington Arts Centre
385-1929
arts@wcc.govt.nz

Written by

Eric Vaughn Holowacz

8 Apr 2005

Eric Vaughn Holowacz was born in Princeton, New Jersey and grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Irmo High School, and was a member of its National Championship academic Quiz Bowl Team in 1986.