Open Stu­dios is clos­ing

Whanganui Midweek - - Front Page - By PAUL BROOKS

One of the ca­su­al­ties of Covid19 has been the an­nual Artists Open Stu­dios, one of the most im­por­tant events on Whanganui’s arts cal­en­dar and a cru­cial earner for many of the re­gion’s artists.

Event co-or­di­na­tor Kat Wade is dis­ap­pointed but try­ing to be pos­i­tive.

Kat and the Artists Open Stu­dios Trust met on Thurs­day.

“The thing is, the roads are open to Whanganui and, ob­vi­ously, there’s no way of track­ing who is go­ing where.”

She says about 65 stu­dios wanted to go ahead but that would have meant a register at ev­ery stu­dio to keep track of all vis­i­tors with their con­tact de­tails. And, of course, the oblig­a­tory hand sani­tiser or soap and wa­ter.

“As event man­ager I felt un­com­fort­able with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of mak­ing sure those guide­lines were strictly fol­lowed. If just one per­son came out of this event hav­ing con­tracted or passed on the virus, it would have meant the end of the event, pos­si­bly for­ever. The risk was too great.”

On top of that was the rate at which ev­ery­thing was chang­ing and the con­stant up­dates from Gov­ern­ment and Min­istry of Health meant there was too much un­cer­tainty.

A large num­ber of artists have kept their stu­dios open to the pub­lic — with health mea­sures in place — and are free to do so, says Kat. But some have opted to play safe and not open.

“What we can do is pro­mote any on-line sales of works that would have been show­ing over the two week­ends. “Even if they just post a pic­ture on Face­book and say what the amount is, we will share that on our Face­book page and In­sta­gram. We can still sup­port­ing our artists.”

Kat and the Trusts have put a lot of work into this but she re­mains pos­i­tive.

“It’s hap­pen­ing to ev­ery­one: We’re not an iso­lated case and I don’t feel we’re any worse off than any­one else. This is just the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion.

“I feel dis­ap­pointed more so for the artists be­cause this was their op­por­tu­nity, and sad for the com­mu­nity. With Whanganui Walls not go­ing ahead as well, this would have been a re­ally spe­cial event. But when th­ese things come back, maybe peo­ple will have re­newed en­thu­si­asm for them. Peo­ple might have more ap­pre­ci­a­tion for get­ting out there and do­ing stuff.”

Artists Open Stu­dios nor­mally be­gins with the Start­ing Point Ex­hi­bi­tion, which is closed and will only be avail­able to view on line.

“It’s such a shame be­cause it’s an amaz­ing eclec­tic mix of work, right across the spec­trum . . . that’s the beauty of this event. There’s no cri­te­ria around who can open their stu­dios, so out there is a beau­ti­ful hand­made quilt, Dan

Mills’ graf­fiti-style paint­ing

. . . there’s some­thing for ev­ery­one. It’s the best snap­shot you can get of the event.”

Kat says right now, with all the un­cer­tainty, it’s too hard to plan for the fu­ture.

“While we would have liked to have put a plan in place to resched­ule the event, it’s just im­pos­si­ble.

“I want to thank the artists for their sup­port.”

PIC­TURE / PAUL BROOKS

Artists Open Stu­dios event man­ager Kat Wade stands next to a work by Car­men Sim­monds at the Start­ing Point Ex­hi­bi­tion.

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