Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Te Atamira Arts and Cultural Expose

Until the doors to Queenstown’s new $3.9 million multi-purpose arts and cultural space, Te Atamira, opened in Remarkables Park in May 2022 the community was not convinced it would eventuate.

Director Olivia Egerton who has been spearheading the development of the 1400 square metre complex says “because it’s been two decades in the waiting for a purpose-built arts and cultural facility like this, I think a lot of people thought again it was all talk and it wouldn’t happen. Once we launched there was an overwhelming response because they could see exactly what had been achieved with Te Atamira and what it would mean for the community”.

Te Atamira was initially driven by philanthropists Carroll Joynes and Abby McCormick O’Neill who both have strong links with the arts in Chicago and had a vision for a purpose-built arts facility in Queenstown which is affordable to everyone in the community.

“We owe Carroll and Abby a huge debt of gratitude for their support and their work particularly with the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) behind the scenes,” says Olivia. “They also helped bring on board other supporters and donors with Lady Jan Edgar in the role of patron.”

Te Atamira is housed in two former commercial premises at Remarkables Park converted to create 22 fit for purpose spaces including state-of-the-art dance studios, art, music and theatre studios, a curated art gallery, a pottery workshop, a recording studio, youth space and workshop space.

“We always knew there was a demand and about 2,000 people a week, across 35 or so arts groups, are currently using it along with professional artists who are also leasing studios. The Queenstown Art Society is now calling Te Atamira home after relocating from central Queenstown and they will have rotating artists on display as well as regular local art exhibitions.”

Olivia paid tribute to the QLDC for backing the project and supporting some of the lease costs to the tune of $5.4 million over the next ten years.

“We also have a number of revenue streams to help with ongoing funding, ranging from bookings, ticketing, pop-ups and our on-site shop along with other means of promised support for at least the next couple of years.”

Community groups and organisations pay between $5 and $25 for space while commercial groups pay more. 

“The philosophy behind Te Atamira is to encourage people, particularly the youth in our community to dream big,” says Olivia.  “The arts provide a mechanism for exploring new things and honing skills and giving people confidence that they can be anything they want to be.”

 Te Atamira is a platform for exploring new things according to director Olivia Egerton who says the recently opened art and cultural space is a place people can visit at anytime and be exposed to artistic excellence.

“Our programme of events for the next 12 months exhibits local, regional and national artists and even an international artist. Highlights of our winter schedule include an open studio project with Remarkables master carver Steve Solomon and an eight-channel sound installation by Auckland sound artist and experimental musician Rachel Shearer.”

Several exhibitions of artwork by local children and young people are planned and in August Te Atamira will host two exhibitions featuring work created during the Three Lakes Cultural Trust’s Arts in Schools programme last year.

“Primary school children worked alongside local professional artists to create art in different media including sculpture, printmaking , photography and painting,” says Olivia.

Te Atamira will also host Miharo’s cultural art exhibition and awards which is the culmination of an arts curriculum distributed throughout schools in the region.

“In August and September, we will be showing Ko Murihiku Tōku Whaea /Southern Mother by three printmakers – Kyla Cresswell, Emma Kitson and Kim Lowe who all have connections to Southland and trained at the Dunedin School of Art under Marilynn Webb. The works reflect and celebrate Murihiku – the inspirational great Southern Mother. The artists will be offering a variety of workshops to coincide with the exhibition.”

“An exhibition by UK based photographer Mandy Barker called Shelf-Life, which is supported by the British Councilwill be a highlight later in  the year. The series of ten photographs appear beautiful on the surface, yet they reveal the sinister reality of society’s reliance on plastic and the damage it causes to the environment,” she says. “The images are constructed from photographs of the huge quantities of plastic rubbish found on the remote Henderson Island, part of the Pitcairn Island Group in the south Pacific Ocean. The titles of the works are barcodes, tracing the source of the discarded plastic from supermarket shelves all over the world and the artist is sending a message to end our reliance on plastic.”

Olivia says for the first time in Queenstown there is a purpose-built space which can house touring national and international exhibitions. 

“People will be able to visit exhibitions at Te Atamira which would previously have only been held  in the larger centres. No more will they have to jump on a plane to go and see an exhibition. It will be right here and accessible on their doorstep.”