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Upper Hutt’s Expressions Whirinaki set to grow

The Expressions Whirinaki Trust has been granted up to $1.3 million, from the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund by the Minister for Art, Culture and Heritage, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern. The grant will contribute toward the extension of Expressions Whirinaki Arts and Entertainment Centre. This substantial grant nearly completes the three-year fundraising period for the Centre, joining two previous grants from Lotteries which total $1 million, a $200,000 grant from Hutt Mana Trust, naming rights sponsorship from Malcolm Gillies, and a number of other substantial grants.

The extension of the Centre was first raised in 2014 by the Board of Expressions Whirinaki highlighting the need for more space in order to grow and to meet the needs of the community. The extension of Expressions Whirinaki will see the addition of two new galleries: a Heritage Gallery, focusing on local history; and The Heretaunga Rotary Gallery which will focus on hands-on interactive experiences. The extension will also include a dedicated collection storage facility for the Pumpkin Cottage Collection, a community creative workshop, and a commercial kitchen for The Professionals Recreation Hall.

The extension will take place at the rear of the Centre. The detailed architectural plans have been completed by Athfield Architects and an application for building consent is currently in process at Upper Hutt City Council. Construction is expected to start late 2019, with an expected completion and opening in early 2021.

The extension is in keeping with the current design of the building with a cedar timber wrapped around the main gallery space at the rear of the building and a covered outdoor boardwalk connecting to H2O Xtream aquatic centre. The new Heritage Gallery will have a high ceiling height and natural light to open up the space to the public spaces outside. It will be built to modern museum standards, with controlled light levels and passive climate control. In addition The Professionals Recreation Hall will have a new dedicated entrance and foyer and a commercial kitchen.

“The extension will be great asset to the community of Upper Hutt and the region. The Heritage Gallery fulfils the needs for a facility in Upper Hutt where the public can access our cultural stories and celebrate our community’s unique identity,” says Council’s Chief Executive, Peter Kelly. “Visitor numbers to Expressions Whirinaki are growing and will continue to do so over the next ten years. With a strong exhibition history under its belt, and with an ambitious and engaging programme for the future, this extra gallery space will be well utilised for years to come.”

Leanne Wickham, Director of Expressions Whirinaki explains that the new spaces will provide the opportunity to tell our local Upper Hutt stories in a real and authentic way. “We have already received substantial funding for our opening exhibition in the gallery which tells the stories of our Upper Hutt streets. The extra space will enable us to bring in larger international exhibitions that, until now we’ve not been able to accommodate. We have also received funding from The Ministry of Education for the provision of a LEOTC (Learning Experiences Outside The Classroom) education programme for schools, in the new creative workshop.”

Wickham and the Board of Expressions Whirinaki would like to thank all those in the community who have helped support the fundraising so far. “We have very much appreciated the responses that we have had from the community in getting behind the growth of the Centre.”

Expressions Whirinaki will remain open throughout the construction period although some parts of the Centre will be closed. During construction, points of access will change from time-to-time. The Expressions Whirinaki website will be the go-to place for updates on the project. Go to www.expressions.org.nz.

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