Vacant storefront's new lease of life

By Melissa Nightingale

1 comment
FANCY A BROWSE: Artists and organisers in the newly opened temporary art gallery, Val Donkervoort, left, Paul Gibbs, Russell Duggan, Doreen Hardy, Kate St Amand, Sandra Brumby. PHOTO/ STUART MUNRO
FANCY A BROWSE: Artists and organisers in the newly opened temporary art gallery, Val Donkervoort, left, Paul Gibbs, Russell Duggan, Doreen Hardy, Kate St Amand, Sandra Brumby. PHOTO/ STUART MUNRO

What was once an empty storefront along Victoria Ave has been transformed into a miniature art gallery with the help of a group of Whanganui people.
The transformation is all part of a plan by Collective Whanganui to breathe life back into empty shops in the central business district.

The store at 57a Victoria Ave is now decked out with artwork, and will be open seven days a week from 10am to 3pm, with an on-duty artist present.
People will be able to buy the art from the store, which they have named Living Tones.

"The idea behind the whole project is that instead of empty shops we have vibrant little businesses," Mainstreet Wanganui chairwoman Doreen Hardy said.
"These premises are given to us free - the owners don't charge us at all."

The building remains up for rent, but the owners have agreed to have the gallery set up there to keep it from being another empty window in the street.

Mrs Hardy said she did not know of many towns where they could go to a building owner and say "give us your shop, mate" and be successful.
"We're blessed in Whanganui."
Ray White commercial consultant Russell Duggan has been working on approaching building owners and pitching ideas to them.
Mr Duggan, who has been offering his time for free, has so far found four or five agreeable owners.

Mrs Hardy said the project, which runs for six months, is funded by Whanganui and Partners, who contributed $10,000 to cover liability and admin fees.
The artists whose works are on display are Kate St Amand, Sandra Brumby, Val Donkervoort, and Paul Gibbs.
"It's a great opportunity for all of us," Ms St Amand said.
Mr Gibbs called it an "incredible journey".

Ms Donkervoort said they would take turns manning the shop, and Whanganui people could expect to come into the gallery and perhaps see one of the artists painting in the back.

Five per cent of the art sales are donated to Jigsaw Whanganui.
Mrs Hardy said they hoped to extend the project for longer than six months and were looking to set up many different art types in other stores, including polished driftwood sculptures, corrugated iron artworks, and other creative pieces.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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