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Community support wanted for arts facility study in Mercury Bay

Creative Coromandel is in search of sponsors to aid its research into the development of a dedicated arts facility for the Mercury Bay area.

The charitable trust, also known as the He Mana Toi Moehau Trust, received a $68,182 grant from the Lottery Community Facilities Fund in April. The grant will allow Creative Coromandel to explore the need for a facility which can cater for a wide range of art and cultural activities, from full theatre productions and music performances to exhibitions and workshops. 

“Although detail around a proposed facility design will emerge from the results of the study, the vision is for an affordable, inclusive, and flexible public space suitable for all art forms,” Creative Coromandel said. 

“The study will seek information through robust consultation with iwi, local government, local arts practitioners, schools, community organisations, arts organisations, and the local community.”

The grant will cover most of the cost of conducting the feasibility study, including stakeholder venue hire for public hui and mana whenua consultation. However, it did not cover the costs for project administration and communication costs, which Creative Coromandel said were vital tools in getting the message out to the public, arts community and key organisations regarding the hui.

The trust is seeking support from sponsors to make up the $42,549 shortfall. It is also on the hunt for people to join the study’s steering committee or hold active roles such as chairperson, secretary or treasurer. 

“The steering committee, established to oversee the feasibility study, recognises the importance of keeping our community informed during the consultation process,” Creative Coromandel said. 

“Having people with skills that can help the group drive the work, legal skills/knowledge to assist with the formation of a trust and people with good knowledge of the Mercury Bay area/arts communities/key organisation will all add to the skill base and depth of the group.”

The feasibility study is scheduled to wrap up in October, following which a report will be made and the next steps decided on. 

“The study will tell us in detail exactly what is needed … how the community will benefit from such a facility and how the design of the facility will need to reflect the shifting, growing and diverse needs of the community. [It will] expose the social and financial viability of the build and ongoing funding and management possibilities,” the trust said. 

Creative Coromandel is clear on the need for a dedicated facility in the area.

“The arts are an important strength of our community and are an intrinsic part of everyday life on the Peninsula. Arts practice and attendance at arts events play a very significant role in the cohesion and inclusion of the greatly diverse peoples of the small and remote communities that make up Te Whanganui o Hei [Mercury Bay],” it said. 

“The arts are a powerhouse of social and community enablement.”

Currently, the arts community operates out of a variety of different venues including the Whitianga Town Hall, but the lack of a dedicated venue means groups are struggling to show their full potential. Theatre productions, for example, are unable to find venues offering large uninterrupted blocks of time, making it difficult to plan full-scale productions. 

 “Over the ten years that Creative Mercury Bay Trust was operating, we facilitated a tremendous variety of performances in the town hall,” Creative Coromandel’s district arts manager Jan said, “but the set-up and pack down of sound, lighting and seating was time-consuming and exhausting for volunteers, and ultimately contributed to [the trust] not being sustainable”.

Contact Creative Coromandel at to get involved. 

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air.