A second year of Covid-19 restrictions has nipped many Central Otago art events in the bud but artists are hoping for recovery.

Covid-19 casualties have included the Alexandra Blossom Festival, Bannockburn’s Over the Bridge, the Arts on Tour exhibition and the Arts Gold Awards.

Central Otago District Arts rust chairwoman Jan Bean said losing the nationally significant Arts Gold Awards was a big setback because it attracted hundreds of visitors and artists to the region.

However, new initiatives were being planned and other exhibitions were reopening.

A new Clyde Cover to Cover literary event has been rescheduled to November 28 and trust co-ordinator Rebekah de Jong is working with arts groups on public art projects, art education and a video and stories project by local writer Laura Elliot.

member Gail De Jong said since reopening in the Cromwell heritage precinct at Level 2, the gallery had been unusually quiet.

“What we think has happened is there are local people coming in and because our artists have strong support within the region, work is still selling, although understandably slightly down on normal sales,” Mrs de Jong said.

New patrons were more likely to be from Dunedin and Queenstown.


Mrs de Jong’s printmaker husband Chris De Jong, a retired Dunedin School of Art principal lecturer, runs Octa Gallery in Cromwell.

After the first lockdown, Octa enjoyed significant local and regional patronage, which helped even out revenue that would otherwise be received from international visitors, but the second lockdown was taking its toll and had interrupted supplies, he said.

“I stand to be corrected but, in general, it appears that art galleries throughout New Zealand have managed to survive due to a renewed interest in art, art investment and ownership during these troubled times.

“Since the second lockdown, it feels as if people have become a bit more reticent and battle weary,” he said.

Central Otago printmaker and painter Marion Vialade said she had had two very different lockdowns.

Last year, her in-laws were staying and helped with child care so she could do some work.

This year, she wrangled children and art practice on her own, while her essential worker husband worked.

Ms Vialade said she struggled more this time because a planned exhibition had to be cancelled.

In addition, she did not know if the framer could source materials to prepare her work in time for opening at Hullabaloo last Sunday.

“I was stressed because I didn’t know when I could exhibit. [It was a] scramble but I was ready on time,” she said.