Meeting inspires creation of arts trust for region

Southland art-lovers could have greater art opportunities, such as a youth group and an online artist directory, after a Southland arts group voted yesterday to form an arts trust.

The Project Art Southland Action Group, a Venture Southland initiative set up to foster art in the region, voted to seek charitable trust status at a public meeting yesterday. This would help the group obtain funding for projects including a youth arts group, Venture Southland creative projects manager Angela Newell said.

"The only way to get on the gravy train is to have a trust, but it's also about giving as well. It's about having a vision."

Artist Dawn Glynn said there was a need for a unified and transparent body promoting all arts in the region, and planning had already dragged on too long.

"There's Sport Southland - why not Art Southland? We don't need to have this going on and on. We need to be strong."

When established, the trust would work with, not against, the many other arts trusts and organisations already active in the region, Ms Newell said.

Also at yesterday's meeting, the group discussed 86 potential project ideas from suggestions given at the Southland Conference of the Arts earlier this year, and spent time brainstorming feasible outcomes.

Ms Newell said one of the trust's projects would be to establish a Youth Arts Development Squad, which would give Southland high school students access to art events and art mentoring opportunities across all creative fields.

These students would become "arts groupies", attending a variety of performances, exhibitions and events, even if they were only interested in one artistic area.

"The idea is that the visual artist goes to the classical music concert and learns the virtuosity, because one day they're going to work on a project where they need to collaborate with musicians," she said.

Another project to include and engage low-decile students in art events and clubs was also suggested during the session.

Project Art Southland Action Group members will meet on January 21 to settle details of the new trust and to report on other projects, such as the Youth Arts Development Squad.

The Southland Times