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