Arts sector’s spin-offs grow

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Economic benefits as well as artistic ones are coming from the continued growth of Central Otago’s arts sector, those in the arts community say.

A Central Otago District Arts Trust (Codat) focus on establishing the region as an arts destination, resulting growth in arts projects and a move to more collaborative arts initiatives were benefiting the arts and wider community in a “holistic” way, Codat chairwoman Jan Bean said.

Developments included the opening of new art galleries and the increasing profile of existing ones; rising interest in the Central Otago Arts Trail and events such as the Arts on the Rail Trail, Arts Gold Awards and WoolOn Creative Event; and moves by Central Stories Art Gallery and Museum to expand its art exhibition programme, she said.

The focus was increasing the profile of the Central Otago arts community, which was creating more opportunities for artists, art-lovers and businesses, Mrs Bean said.

More visitors were exploring the arts scene in the area and she predicted further growth in collaborative and business ventures, such as joint ventures linking the arts with other sectors such as wine and food.

“And businesses need to sit up and take note of that, and consider how they could be part of the arts environment.”

Central Stories general manager Maurice Watson said he lived in Nelson several decades ago when it began its transformation into an arts destination and Central Otago had the potential to develop a similar profile.

Central Stories aimed to become a hub within the arts community and was staging more ambitious exhibitions, including ones that included a range of media and disciplines. He hoped to have more poetry recitals, musical performances, floor talks and community discussions at the museum and its gallery, as well as working with other museums to remind visitors and residents what was available elsewhere in the district.

Central Otago arts co-ordinator Rebekah de Jong said Central Otago’s arts scene had been “spurred along” by the likes of the Old Cromwell Historic Precinct and Clyde’s development.

An increasing amount of arts-related events helped develop a culture of “interest and appreciation” in the art sector, and there was an “ever-expanding” collection of galleries and workshops in the area, Ms de Jong said.

Former arts co-ordinator Maxine Williams said improved communication and collaboration among the arts community had made artists more aware of opportunities available to them.

There would always be elements of the “struggling artist syndrome”, but others had noticed increased incomes from extra visitors and opportunities, Ms Williams said.

She praised funders who supported the arts and hoped moves under way to develop a strategy to encourage more young people to consider the arts as a career would continue.