‘Massive shortage’ of work spaces for artists in town.

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Rising prices in Wanaka are making it a challenging place to work, local artist Jane Kellahan says.

There was “a massive shortage” of spaces, and artists were faced with having to pay commercial rate, she said.

“I think the council needs to think about providing some work spaces for artists.”

Miss Kellahan, who won overall first prize at the Wanaka Art Society’s Labour Weekend Exhibition, said there were many young creative people in Wanaka.

Artists needed spaces that enabled them to set aside space to let paintings dry.

“They can’t just keep moving stuff around.”

An example of what could be done was a series of shipping containers that were turned into artist studios after the Christchurch earthquake.

The containers would keep art secure after hours, and it could be a tourist destination to see artists at work, she said.

Compared with countries such as Italy, “we are babies when it comes to culture and art,” Miss Kellahan said.

New Zealand was “sports driven” and Wanaka needed a “boost” when it came to art.

“Wanaka could have a sculpture park, or an arts tour. It needs something.”

Wanaka Arts Centre manager Diana Hickey said it had 12 tenanted spaces for artists as well as four rooms that had been amalgamated into two printer’s studios.

The centre was rented from the Queenstown Lakes District Council on a two-year lease with rights of renewal.

Because of the favourable lease it had with the council, it was able to offer subsidised rates to working artists or teachers.

There were about 10 people on a waiting list for spaces, and the centre received inquiries about the rooms on a regular basis.

It had an application process for artists which it took very seriously, and the aim was to ensure people who had a genuine need could be accommodated.

Spaces for artists in Wanaka had become “a lot rarer” because space was at a premium, Ms Hickey said.

“We are really aware of the value of having this building, and we are trying to maximise its appropriate use.”

Council communications and engagement manager Naell Crosby-Roe said space for artists was discussed as part of the Vision Beyond 2050 set of guiding principles.

“Access to a wider variety of affordable spaces for studio work, display and performance was something that came through the initial workshops from many community representatives, as was a desire to see arts and culture grow significantly in our district.

“So while the vision itself doesn’t specifically prescribe that there should be affordable studio space, it is possible that this could be one of the longer-term outcomes,” he said.

Jane Kellahan has been invited to represent New Zealand at the London Art Biennale in May and is raising funds to help with costs. To give visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/artist-to-represent-nz-in-london.