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No Agreement Yet For Stables Artists


With only nine days to go before their eviction, artists at the historic Winstones Stables say landlord Michael Friedlander is stone-walling an agreement for them to return.

They Mayor, Christine Fletcher and senior councillors have approached the landlord on behalf of the artists in an attempt to get a deal.

The group of sculptors, painters and artisans has been on the site for more than ten years. They secured a Historic Places Trust Classification One for the building last year. They face eviction on 17 July, when the landlord begins re-development of the site.

The tenants have formed a partnership with law firm Hesketh Henry, several construction firms, and the Elam School of Fine Arts.

They have proposed an artistic-commercial centre for the site, including an authentic refurbishment of the old building. Their proposal was last week short-listed for a major national award: the National Business Review Award for Sponsorship of the Arts.

The consortium has offered the artists a range of refurbishment services on a sponsorship basis, so that the artists could afford the rents on returning to the Stables.

A spokesman for the consortium, John Cranna of Hesketh Henry said: 'There is a terrific opportunity here. But so far the landlord has declined to reduce the rent, to take account of the significant sponsorship being offered. Several major construction companies have offered free labour and materials too, and we have offered our own services free of charge. We are suprised that Mr Friedlander hasn't come to the party.'

The proposal includes a cafe, a gallery for showing the artists work, and an international artists exchange programme.

'The visionary nature of the proposal has been recognised,' said Phillip McKibbin, a spokesman for the artists.

'There is nothing like this in Auckland. It's a wonderful chance to do something special with the site. The place would be a destination for overseas tourists. Mayor Christine Fletcher has proposed public arts fairs in the old cobbled courtyard.'

'We have established a community of excellence and activity in the arts. If you destroy something like this, it will never be replaced. And we have had tremendous support from the consortium of businesses.'

Hartner Construction, Winstones Wall Boards, Andrews Scott Cotton architects, heritage consultants and Elam Fine Arts School have all offered contribution to the scheme.

The Stables were sold by the previous City Council in a secret deal last year. The sale is the subject of an Ombudsman's enquiry, that has still not reported.

Council has offered temporary accommodation to the artists in unused property from the middle of this month.

Bruce Hucker, the Deputy Mayor has agreed to speak with Michael Friedlander again this week, in an attempt to broker an agreement for the artists to return to the Stables.



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