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Using Christchurch as a giant creative space

The White Room Creative Space in Christchurch will extend its hours and wants to use the city as a “giant” creative space, thanks to funding it’s received through the Government’s three-year Creative Spaces Initiative.

Delivered by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage in partnership with Arts Access Aotearoa, the Creative Spaces Initiative is supporting 54 community creative spaces with funding over three years. Eight of the creative spaces are based in Christchurch.

The White Room provides an inclusive, creative community united by a shared passion for art. It fosters creativity, skill sharing, new ideas and ways of creative expression.

It will receive $242,300 over three years from the Creative Spaces Initiative. Art tutor Simon Gray says, “This new funding means we’ll be able to connect and work with a wide range of people and support them to access art and creative activities.

“The White Room artists and staff are looking forward to the opportunities this funding will bring over the next three years – and hopefully for a lot longer.

“It’s a chance to develop new initiatives, connect with new people and organisations, build relationships, and help embed the idea that art and creative activities are essential to people’s wellbeing.

“And, of course, it’s a chance to make lots of art.”

With this funding, The White Room will increase its opening hours so that more people can use the space and will also employ two new art facilitators.

The funding will also be used to make the most of Christchurch as a “giant” creative space. “Treating the city as a giant creative space means we can connect with and use the many resources that are already out there.

“It’s an important part of our programme, and will enable many more artists who experience access issues to take part in art and creative activities and tap into different resources.”

Simon thinks this greater use of the city’s resources will generate a lot of art. Finding creative ways to present this work will keep everyone at The White Room busy over the next year.

“We have plans for individual artists to show their work and to hold group exhibitions,” he says. “This is all part of The White Room’s ongoing work to support and develop opportunities for artists.”

The other Christchurch creative spaces that have received the three-year Creative Spaces Initiative funding are:

  • Cantabrainers Therapeutic Choir Charitable Trust
  • Jolt Charitable Trust
  • Many Hats Theatre Company
  • Te Whare Roimata Trust/Linwood Arts Centre
  • Art-East
  • Arts Integrated
  • Ōtautahi Creative Spaces.

Simon hopes the city’s creative spaces will not only strengthen their relationships with each other but will also build connections with many other groups and organisations across the city.

As soon as alert levels allow, he plans to organise a meeting where the creative spaces can get together and talk about their plans; discuss any collaborative projects and exhibitions; and support each other to ensure the best outcomes.

In January, Hannah Dahlke and Benedict Reid joined Arts Access Aotearoa staff as Creative Spaces Funding Advisors. Initially, their roles were focused on supporting applicants with the application process. Now, they’re focused on working alongside the recipients as they develop and deliver their outreach programmes.

“It’s wonderful to see The White Room thinking big about transforming Christchurch into a creative space,” Hannah says. “I’m also pleased that Christchurch creative spaces are planning to get together and support each other as they develop their projects. This will be a real strength.”

Simon says the Government’s support for creative spaces over the next three years is an important step in recognising the wellbeing benefits for people participating in the arts and creative activities.


“The advice provided by Benedict and Hannah when we made the funding application was invaluable,” he says. “We’re looking forward to working with them over the next three years as we develop our programmes and gather information, data and stories that provide further evidence of the benefits of participating in the arts and creativity.”

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