Youth to get $1m arts hub in CBD

Those backing a central Hamilton arts hub are expecting youth crime to take a dip when it opens.

Zeal, a national youth organisation, is setting up an after-school retreat on Victoria St for Hamilton teens aged 13-18 years.

The venue will include a performing space, a recording studio, band rehearsal rooms, a dance studio and a cafe.

Workshops and classes, from barista training to technical filming, will be run by industry professionals that offer their time and services for free.

A third of the facility's costs have come from fundraising, and Zeal has applied to the Government for further funds to cover the expected $1 million needed.

Community groups have helped to financially support the project, including the Hamilton City Council and Rotary Club of Waikato Sunrise.

It will be the third Zeal location established in 13 years, with two others set up in Wellington and West Auckland.

Zeal chief executive Brook Turner said the central city location was chosen because of the high youth activity, and its close proximity to schools and the Hamilton Transport Centre.

Mr Turner said Zeal's arts focus was an alternative but "strengthening" way to reach out to young people.

Research by Zeal found 71 per cent of Hamilton's youth believed there was not enough to do in the city.

Hamilton City Business Association general manager Sandy Turner said the new facility would encourage young people to pursue creative arts instead of loitering and vandalising.

"We do have youth issues [in Hamilton] where there is a lack of stuff for youth to do. Some people are bored, and then that turns to less appropriate activities."

She said results from the Wellington and West Auckland Zeal branches showed a reduction in youth crime, and she believed the results would be the same in Hamilton.

But Mr Turner said Zeal did not believe their facility was all about fixing "troubled youth".

He said Zeal catered to different sides of youth culture and young people had given their input into what should be in the facility.

"All young people own the space."

The Hamilton facility is expected to be open by July next year.

Waikato Times