A creative space providing art programmes is supporting people facing barriers of social isolation and inequality in Coromandel Town.
Artists in the Making is a result of a three-year funding programme provided by the Government through Manatū Taonga’s Creative Spaces Initiative. The funding has allowed the creative space to expand its programmes and employ artists to visit and teach their craft, such as ceramic artist Caitlin Moloney and master weaver Moana Harrison.
The artists will be showcasing their work at a special fundraising event over Matariki weekend next month at Whitianga Town Hall. A quarter of the proceeds sold will go towards a mammogram machine for Whitianga.
Participants use art and craft to help uncover their creative and artistic skills, meeting every Tuesday and Thursday from 9.30am to 2.30 pm, with hot kai provided.
Lizzy Leckie, senior support worker at Artists in the Making, said the additional funding meant it was able to increase access to its programmes for vulnerable groups in the community.
“We mainly work in ceramics, raranga (weaving), printmaking and painting. We introduce new crafts that people are interested in trying. The main purpose is to have fun, get some support and break down isolation.
Leckie said Artists in the Making began in Whitianga in 2002, and at the end of 2021 expanded to Coromandel Town in response to a need to help those facing barriers.
The programme has grown in popularity since it began with regular attendees and groups often at capacity with 14 people attending weekly. Lizzy says most of the attendees are Māori and aged 13 to 90.
“It is a real whanau and inclusive environment. We have people with early onset dementia, some with mental health issues and intellectual disabilities. Everyone is welcome and made to feel they belong.”
Artists in the Making couldn’t have come at a better time for the Coromandel Town community, which is relatively isolated. Leckie said the isolation was only exacerbated with Covid and, more recently, being cut off by the flooding in the area.
“The programme has been vital for our community. This is a unique programme in the area, so we are filling the gaps in many ways by providing a safe, non-judgmental environment for people to come together and connect. They also get to make some incredible art pieces they can take away and share with their whanau.”
Artists in the Making is now halfway through the three-year funded programme. Leckie did not hesitate to say it has been vital for the Coromandel Town community and only hopes future funding will be secured so it can continue to make a difference.