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Covid-19 has impacted many local businesses and sectors within the community, including the arts.

However, with level 2 now here the community is being called upon to buy and support local where possible.

Portico Gallery co-owner John Miles says they had already been planning to bring in online aspects to their business, but due to Covid-19 have now gone about setting it up quickly.

He says when Covid-19 came along they wanted to make sure people would want to come back to do business, and so got a recovery plan together and made the shop even more attractive.

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They rearranged the gallery and got a nice waiting area, then started to work out how they could operate at level 3 safely.

They had implemented a drop off and pick up system, then set up Zoom and an appointment system using technology. They also set up a Shopify shop and Afterpay.

'We're using technology to reduce the barriers for people... and make it easier to do business."

He says the response has been good and that even in level 4 people were saying they were going to coming back.

John says they had been grateful for the wage subsidy, and that revenue was starting to trickle back in in level 3.

"We have a great, loyal customer base - people who know us and have been with Portico for years."

He says it's important to support local businesses because, "Rotorua is quite a unique place and they are part of living in Rotorua".

"It's a social community spirit and retail can be part of that."

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Rotorua Lakes Council community arts advisor Marc Spijkerbosch says certainly sales have taken a hit, as they have across the board, but he is also hearing that many creatives have enjoyed the lockdown as a time to focus on their pursuits.

"It's been a time to pause, take stock and adapt to this new environment.

"Like other areas of business - art suppliers, galleries, artists and performers have also geared towards a greater virtual presence."

Marc says aside from online sales, he understands there have been some challenges in the last month or so – especially with performances and events. However, this can only be expected.

When asked why he encouraged the local community to get behind local arts/crafts shops and artists, he said, "By supporting our local artists we gain not only aesthetic pleasure, we also invest in our identity and cultural wellbeing".

"Art has always been a sign of a healthy, creative and vibrant community."

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He says through history, the arts have always played a pivotal role in times of rejuvenation and healing.

"As we emerge from our bubbles I expect that opportunities for artists to connect with their communities will be supported and relished even more so.

"These are different times now, but I'm confident our local creative sector is well-equipped to employ the lateral and innovative thinking needed to ensure a most colourful and successful future."

During the level 4 and 3 lockdown The Arts Village planned new activities and dealt with cancelling some others.

It liaised with its community partners to check in and share learnings with each other.

The village had also been getting some exhibition preparation in for new shows once it could - including a self-portrait group show open to anyone with connections to Rotorua that already has 27 artists registered.

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Mary-Beth says she has also personally taught a few online art classes which has been fun.

"Also, figuring out some of the less exciting logistics - how to fund our mahi, how to make sure our space is clean and safe, and how to get messaging out to the right people."

She says the response from the community has been really positive.

"I think most people are yearning for connection at the moment. Even if you normally do spend time on your own, not having the choice to go out and connect socially has been a really big shift.

"To get through this we need to work together and support each other and our community are just awesome at this. "

The Arts Village director Mary-Beth Acres. Photo / Supplied
The Arts Village director Mary-Beth Acres. Photo / Supplied

She says figuring out how to do business and work as a team from home has been new.

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"We had been slowly modernising our work methods thankfully, so we were prepared, but in some ways we have all been thrust into the deep end trying to get into a new routine.

"We have also cut our working hours which has been a shift."

Mary-Beth says moving to level 2 will bring changes for the villages.

"Financially like so many others we have taken a financial hit which is likely to impact us for some time. Our opening hours might change and we won't be reopening as 'normal' yet.

"Our building will reopen in stages. The great thing is that the onsite cafe is already open to the public, and we will be able to have bookings back in soon.

"However, our galleries, reception and normal public programmes will stay closed for a little longer."

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She says creating is a good way to rest and relax your brain, express big emotions, and also connect with others.

"There has been a lot of activity making amazing mahi toi out there during this time and it has been wonderful to see.

"That said, the idea that while we are in lockdown we all have time/resources to get creative is not a safe assumption.

"This time has been a comfortable space to create for some, but there are many people really struggling at the moment and under huge pressures. Having time or even materials to create might not be an option.

"This has been on my mind as well as it is easy to romanticise the idea of artists creating in isolation but the reality for many has been really difficult."

She says artists have been one of the groups massively hit by the lockdown and economic implications, and often do not have business resources to sustain them in the meantime.

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"Spending more time in our own homes, we also seem to all appreciate the artwork on our walls a lot more.

"Support also doesn't have to be financial. You can support an artist by liking/following/subscribing to their social media or mailing lists, sharing their work (with proper credit), or giving them positive feedback."

She says personally she has looked at her own budget, what she spends already that she consider essential, and whether any of that spend can be made more local.

"My spending has definitely changed in that it is less and more conscious. For gifts I have tried to purchase from local shops (like Mcleods Booksellers), or local artists (like Maggie Covell - visual artist)."