Colourful pianos adorn city centre

River City. The 'Tron. And, perhaps, Piano Central

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 08:57 23/07/2014
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Hamilton. The River City. The 'Tron. The City of Roundabouts and now, perhaps, Piano Central.

The Waikato city's latest claim of distinction could come in the form of the colourful pianos appearing outside shops and cafes in the central business district, just waiting for accomplished pianists and amateurs alike to sit down and play them.

The Pop-up Piano Project, as it is being called, is an initiative of the Hamilton Central Business Association and Creative Waikato, and part of a series of projects designed to breathe new life and excitement into the city centre.

It was spearheaded by Colin Hancock, the owner of Victoria Street business Trek n Travel, who purchased a piano with the idea of putting it out on the pavement in front of his shop, for the public to enjoy.

He got the idea from urban spaces expert David Engwicht, who last year hosted a workshop on ways to "jazz up" the city and Hancock chose to interpret that literally.

Trek n Travel is located across the road from Embassy Park, a long-time haunt of the city's homeless population, who at the time were being blamed for unwholesome behaviour in the central city.

Engwicht said that while it was impossible to forcibly remove the homeless from urban centres, their presence could be reduced simply by getting more people into the city.

Trek n Travel staff member Amy Cullen said as a tactic for attracting crowds, the piano had proved a boon.

"People stop by every day. Sometimes they have a tinkle for a few minutes. Some come to play for half an hour and we recently had people performing on them for most of the day."

The piano had been given a vibrant paint job by Waikato artist Emma Woodcock and others had been decorated by street artist Jeremy Shirley and Creative Waikato's Paul Bradley.

Hamilton Central Business Association general manager Sandy Turner said the organisation was in the process of creating a map showing the locations of each piano and information on the artists who painted them.

"This will be made available soon on our website, hamiltoncentral.co.nz, and we will be running fun competitions and events around the pianos. We are not looking at stopping at five pianos though, so keep an eye out for more popping up in the city."

She hoped people might be able to donate unwanted pianos to the project.

As well as Trek n Travel, pianos can also be found at Creative Waikato in Alexandra Street; the Transport Centre in Anglesea Street; Texas Radio in Worley Place; and Momento Espresso on the corner of Victoria and Hood streets.

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- Waikato Times

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