A space to make a whole lot of noise is available at The Stomach in Palmerston North.
For 35 years, the Lombard St venue managed by charity Creative Sounds Society has supported musicians in the region.
“We take the view that everything’s about learning, about support, and everyone’s on their own growth path . . . everyone gets something out of it,” The Stomach manager Harry Lilley says.
The venue provides a space “where they [musicians] can all come together to rehearse and make a whole lot of noise”.
“The work that we do is recognised as being leading in the country as a model.”
It is the only space in the region to offer rehearsal rooms with instruments for hire, a recording studio with sound engineers, plus it acts as an all-ages drug and alcohol-free live music venue.
With its roots in the punk movement, and run by musicians for musicians, the focus is on supporting creativity, Lilley says.
Local and touring bands, drumming groups, and individuals all use the facility to rehearse and record.
Schools and organisations supporting people with disabilities also regularly use the space.
“[We have] lots of different people with different abilities or different goals really. And we find right across the spectrum of people, age, musical interest come through during the week,” Lilley says.
The Stomach alumni run into the thousands of musicians.
“They’ve ended up in all sorts of really interesting places, some of them being signed to record labels and toured internationally and gone on to do amazing projects.”
The Stomach is heavily used, but Lilley says it’s not about how many people come through the door, “it’s more about what it means to all those people”.
Community outreach coordinator Abi Symes will replace Lilley at the end of April.
Palmerston North musician Libby Offord uses The Stomach. It is where she recorded her last three Spotify songs.
Having taken a break from music, she returned to recording last year with the first song capturing her experiences of trying to access mental health services.
Offord found the experience at The Stomach fully supportive, including being encouraged to be a vocal tutor and mentor for a Girls Rock Aotearoa workshop.
As a solo artist, using The Stomach facilities means she is able to collaborate with the sound technician, Nigel Mauchline, which she says is a collaborative process.
“I can send him demos back and forth and we can brainstorm through email before I even go there.”
The connections with the music community mean Offord is also able to record with other local artists.
“Everyone loves The Stomach and it kind of becomes a second home for people. Everyone needs an escape sometimes. And The Stomach is a really great kind of comfortable place to do that.”
For information on open hours and bookings, visit creativesounds.org.nz. Libby Offord’s music is available on Spotify.
This profile of a Te Pū Harakeke - Community Collective Manawatū member organisation is part of an occasional series.
Sonya Holm is a freelance journalist based in Palmerston North.