Free dance, art classes for Queenstown's Te Atamira

Jul 17, 2023

A new partnership is set to deliver free creative arts classes to Queenstown designed to support mental wellbeing and resilience among locals.

Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group has partnered with Queenstown community arts centre Te Atamira to fund four new programmes over the next two years. 

Initially piloted through Te Hau Toka’s Connecting Communities funding, Senior Arts Social has been a huge success and will continue to be funded for the next 12 months. The weekly multi-disciplinary arts programme for seniors includes concerts, art workshops, dance and movement classes, films and artist talks. The programme aims to welcome up to 50 seniors each week.

Participants in the Senior Arts Social, which has secured funding to continue for another 12 months.

The second programme, Community Sing/Draw/Dance, builds on the overwhelming popularity and feedback from Community Sing, a community choir initially funded by Te Hau Toka. Community Sing will continue to be held on the first Tuesday of each month. The Draw/Dance components will be added to the programme in August and will run until March 2025.

Te Atamira Draw will be an interactive drawing and mark-making workshop held on the second Tuesday of every month for adults aged 18 and over. Based on positive feedback from the recent Squiggla drawing workshops, live music will also be introduced. While Te Atamira Dance will invite a range of dance tutors to host a community dance event on the third Tuesday of every month, each featuring a different theme. Up to 100 participants are expected and family groups are encouraged to come along and let their hair down.

The third programme, Sharing Connections, focuses on social and cultural connections, inclusion and diversity. Members from marginalised groups, including rainbow and migrant communities, will have the opportunity to share their stories through a series of hui and creative workshops at Te Atamira and feature their art at a public exhibition.

The fourth programme is Mātauranga Māori – understanding our cultural landscape. Te Atamira is developing this programme with mana whenua to provide a platform that offers a series of community hui to deepen the cultural understanding and appreciation of Te Ao Māori (a Māori world view) in the Tāhuna Queenstown community.

Te Hau Toka Group chair Adell Cox says the partnership with Te Atamira epitomises the Five Ways to Wellbeing and aligns perfectly with what Te Hau Toka is aiming to achieve – “to help people stay well”.

“Te Atamira has quickly become known as a safe, welcoming space, which encourages people to express themselves through a variety of artistic mediums. We love the team’s vision, passion and diversity of programmes. This funding will remove any cost barriers for the community and will give the team time to evolve the concepts into sustainable longer-term projects.” 

Te Atamira Director Olivia Egerton is excited to enable accessible, community-based programmes that bring together people of all ages and skill levels to find something that actively supports their wellbeing.

“Te Atamira has quickly become a centre for social connection and creativity. We see people - often shyly - coming in to sign up for a programme that has sparked their interest and once they’ve experienced it, met other people and gained confidence, they start registering for other programmes.

“We deeply appreciate Te Hau Toka supporting our vision and enabling creativity to flourish in the community. We’re particularly delighted the pilot for Senior Arts Social has turned into a programme so quickly. Saturday mornings at Te Atamira show you can make every day a wonderful day with a cup of tea and creativity with our community – it is very special indeed.”

Main image (Supplied): A pilot programme catering for up to 50 seniors a week includes concerts, art workshops, dance and movement classes, films and artist talks, plus time for a hot drink and a catch-up.

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