Grand plans afoot for Steampunk in Thames

Teresa Ramsey/Fairfax NZ

New president John McKeowen has grand plans for Steampunk in Thames.

New Steampunk Thames president John McKeowen has grand plans to develop steampunk in the town.

The Thames man's vision is to develop a steampunk arts hub, have steampunk events held throughout the year and launch a steampunk supporters club.

He also plans to extend the annual Steampunk Festival from two days to four and add a Punk your Pet category.

New Steampunk the Thames president John McKeowen.

New Steampunk the Thames president John McKeowen.

There will also be a second Steampunk ball, called the Gold Ball, which will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the discovery of Thames Goldfields.

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"We've been listening to what people say," McKeowen said.

"Our over-riding ethos is to promote arts in the community. Steampunk is the vehicle we use because it can incorporate so many things."

A mash of arts, creativity, technology and science, Steampunk had grown in popularity in Thames over the past few years.

It was also good for the heritage town, drawing visitors from all over the country and overseas, he said.

"We've talked to a lot of the retailers and they all say they get more trade during that time," he said.

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"There's quite a [steampunk] movement all around the world. It's quite free, there's no set rules really it can go from feral Mad Max to more familiar Victorian."

McKeowen takes over from Deb MacDonald Brown, who recently stepped down as president.

"She's done a great job as founding president," he said.

McKeowen has been involved with Steampunk since it began several years ago, part of a small core committee of about six people.

He has mainly been involved in organising Steampunk events, in particular, the Steampunk Ball.

The organisation is currently working towards establishing a Steampunk arts hub in Thames.

"We've made concrete steps to make a steampunk central, we have secured a venue and we are going to move in soon and start to steampunk it," McKeowen said.

"Watch this space."

The plan is to hold steampunk outdoor and indoor markets, industrial dance parties, monthly events and set up a gallery and Steampunk shop on site.

McKeowen said the arts hub would also host resident artists and hold educational workshops.

The group also wants to establish a forge and facilities for glass blowing and screen printing.

"A lot of people can do stuff but don't have a place to do it."

 - Stuff

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