New era for Artist Open Studios

By Anne-Marie McDonald

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New Open Studios coordinator Sarah Williams, with new Open Studios board chair Ross Fallen, Kathy Cunningham from Whanganui Events Trust and outgoing Open Studios board chair Ivan Vostinar.
New Open Studios coordinator Sarah Williams, with new Open Studios board chair Ross Fallen, Kathy Cunningham from Whanganui Events Trust and outgoing Open Studios board chair Ivan Vostinar.

Whanganui Artist Open Studios is preparing for its 2017 season with a new coordinator, a new board chair and a new funding partner.

Open Studios is an annual event that sees Whanganui artists open their studios to the public over two weekends in autumn. In 2016 around 100 artists took part in the event.

In 2017 Open Studios will be held March 25-April 2.

Sarah Williams, owner of Space Gallery, has been appointed to the part-time role of events coordinator for Open Studios.

This will be Miss Williams' second stint in the position, as she was also coordinator in 2014.

Miss Williams will be employed by the Whanganui Events Trust, in a new partnership that will see the Open Studios board deal with governance and the events trust look after funding and promotion.

Kathy Cunningham from Whanganui Events Trust said the partnership began when her organisation signed a memorandum of understanding with Whanganui & Partners, the economic development arm of the Whanganui District Council.

"My experience is in public relations and events management; theirs is in funding and marketing. So together we thought we could do something bigger and better," Ms Cunningham said.

The two organisations decided to trial a 12-month pilot programme with Open Studios.

"Whanganui Events Trust is funded to work with the Open Studios trust to help make the event more sustainable, look at processes and best practice within project management, and help with sponsorship and marketing," Ms Cunningham said.

Outgoing Open Studios chair Ivan Vostinar said the new partnership would provide more stability for the event.

"We were often running on a lot of volunteer time. The workload got to the point where it was becoming difficult and the event wasn't really sustainable.

"We were faced with trying to grow the event with less money, and with better continuity with the coordinator and board members. It was just impossible," Mr Vostinar said.

Mr Vostinar said with the assistance of Whanganui Events Trust there would be better opportunities for Open Studios to attract funding through sponsorship, implement a more efficient registering system for artists, and include more events during Open Studios.

"That's why we were keen to be involved with Whanganui Events Trust."

Mr Vostinar last week stepped down as chair of the board, but he will remain as a board member. He has been replaced by Ross Fallen.

"I think this is a good time for me to finish in this role, as we look to a fresh new start."

Mr Fallen said he was looking forward to his new role as board chair.

He said Whanganui artists had been supportive of Whanganui Events Trust's involvement.

"There have been questions from the artists but we haven't faced any opposition. So it was easy for the board to make a unanimous decision to go with the pilot programme," Mr Fallen said.

"I think it will be an excellent partnership."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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