Wānaka Sun       

Upper Clutha winter workshops a hit

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 24 Sep, 2020 | By Pat Deavoll editor@thewanakasun.co.nz

Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board, literally. With the 31st annual Wanaka Autumn Arts School cancelled due to the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown, the Upper Clutha Community Arts Council, the school's organising committee, decided to try a different angle this year – and the community loved it.

 The committee came up with the idea of supporting a series of winter workshops. In the end, thirteen one and two-day courses were held throughout July, August and September, with six different local tutors teaching in three venues. The series was a hit, with 121 locals coming along for classes in life drawing, digital photography, sewing and overlocking, polymer clay, embroidery and non-fiction writing.

 “We reached out to local creators to become tutors, and helped them source funding from the Central Lakes Trust CLASS scheme to run the courses,” Susan Mason, a UCCAC committee member, said. Many of the classes filled up quickly, and attracted a new audience from the one that traditionally attends the regular Arts School, which runs for five days over the school holidays, a tricky time for parents.

 “Thanks to the CLASS funding, we were able to keep course costs low and therefore accessible to everyone,” Mason said.

 As well, Mason said that COVID meant the creative community really “needed a boost” in the form of paid work, as did the venues used for the workshops; Lake Wānaka Centre, Mount Aspiring College and the Wānaka Community Hub, which had all lost income during the pandemic.

 The students, such as Phillipa Lumsden, who took two of the Digital Photography courses with Simon Larkin, were thrilled with the classes.

 “Simon is so passionate about photography and very keen to share his knowledge. We were all so grateful on our course to have been able to do such an extensive course, with a great tutor and for so little cost.

 For the tutors, the series was a chance to share knowledge, connect with the community, and create something positive out of what is a difficult time for many of us. Non-fiction writing tutor Liz Breslin worked with students on telling their own stories.

 “I so enjoyed being able to workshop with the local community, using writing to reflect on and connect through our COVID experiences in and beyond. We had a packed two-day programme which culminated in our own mini festival session, sharing our work and celebrating.”

 And the life drawing classes even employed six life models, most of whom had never worked as artist models before.

 The Upper Clutha Community Arts Council provides funding for

local groups wanting to do an art projects, such as exhibitions, books and performances. Get in touch with the council on UCCAC@outlook.com for more information and to get a funding application.

Read edition 993 of the Wānaka Sun here.


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