Business is buzzing at the Incubator Creative Hub as Tauranga's art scene booms.
Director Simone Anderson says it can't keep up with demand and has about seven artists on its waiting list hoping for new studios.
The growth had sparked an expansion, with the hub celebrating five years at the Historic Village in October, she says.
"When we first came here it was really desolate. And when we moved in here there was a joke that there were tumbleweeds blowing up the road."
"But we love it here and always had faith that this was the place to be."
Research showed art hubs in other cities like New York or suburbs, including Soho, which were now trendy and gentrified started off in cheap, affordable areas, she says.
Now the hub is looking forward to opening two new buildings — one "a lovely old kauri building," would become the Jam Factory.
"It is going to be a great space for musicians and a place for tuition. We really want to do youth music programmes."
Meanwhile the second building was in collaboration with the Tauranga Art Gallery and was four studios including two for national or international artist in residence.
"We have just run out of room so this is every exciting."
She likened the hub to shared corporate offices and says it is going from strength to strength.
"There are these amazing shared corporate offices like the Venture Centre and Base Station and that is what we are trying to do in the creative industry. People really bounce off each other when they are together."
"Collectively you can really accomplish a lot. It's not just about us — it's about the community and when we started doing all these events our vision changed ... so when these new buildings came along we just grabbed them."
At the moment there were seven artists in residence at the hub and it had delivered 245 diverse events since it started, 70 fringe music events and 50 exhibitions.
Ashlei Luckman-Taupaki has just opened her first exhibition Easy Darling at the hub and believes she is "pretty lucky".
She graduated from Toi Ohomai with a Bachelor of Creative Industries qualification in 2016 and spent a year "figuring what I was doing".
Artist Lynette Fisher says it is also hard to promote yourself as an artist because it "just comes from your soul".
"You have to step back sometimes and we are probably our own worst enemy. Artists are often at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to anything." But views were changing.
"Art is a legit occupation. Without art in the world there is nothing."
The Historic Village team leader Blair Graham says The Incubator has successfully delivered on growing arts and culture in our community.
"Through their extensive events programme they have significantly contributed to the growth in visitor numbers at The Historic Village."
BY THE NUMBERS
■ Since it opened four years ago the Incubator Creative Hub has delivered 245 diverse events, 70 fringe music events and 50 exhibitions.
■ 1000 volunteers have put in 48,000 volunteer hours.
■ Only about 11 per cent of its operating costs were funded, with help from TECT and Bay Trust.