Arts centre anchor retires

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The Wanaka Arts Centre has been a central part of the arts community for 20 years, providing affordable spaces for up to 300 artists a year, including painters, printers, knitters, potters, musicians and more.

The key figure since the centre opened in 1998 has been Cheryl Taylor, of Luggate.

Now after 20 years of managing the centre, Mrs Taylor is stepping down to spend more time with her family.

The small building that houses the centre was once staff quarters for the old THC hotel and when the hotel closed, the building passed into council ownership.

In Wanaka there was a “desperate need” for space where artists could work “and a group of us recognised that”, Mrs Taylor said.

The group established the Wanaka Arts Centre Trust and began leasing the space from the council.

Mrs Taylor was the secretary and treasurer and managed the rooms from the beginning.

The aim was to allow artists to have access to a workshop where they could create, Mrs Taylor said.

“A lot of the artists at the turn of the century didn’t have a lot of money, and it was only $12 a week for a room, so it made it affordable for artists to follow their dream.”

Later, space was provided to allowed groups to come together, Mrs Taylor said.

“We created a community room, which was a very good idea, because a lot of groups had nowhere to go, so there’s painters’ groups, there’s embroidery, there’s singing groups, artists come in and do workshops.

As Wanaka changed, musicians and music teachers discovered the centre and now about eight music teachers use the centre.

The rent had been revised but was still very affordable, at under $20 a week for a room, Mrs Taylor said.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult paid tribute to Mrs Taylor for her 20 years of service looking after thecentre.

“I would like to thank Cheryl for her tireless commitment to the arts community in our district.

“During her time at Wanaka Arts Centre, Cheryl has been instrumental in nurturing and developing the region’s vibrant arts culture [and] we wish her well for her future endeavours.”