Plunge popup artist Graham Mackie speaks at a meeting to try and keep the art space open.
Plunge popup artist Graham Mackie speaks at a meeting to try and keep the art space open. Adam Hourigan

Plunge festival sparks arty idea

IN THREE days, paintings will be stripped from the walls of the Yamba space local artists have called theirs for the past month, signalling the end of the 2016 Plunge festival pop-up hub.

But after growing to love the industrial building on Neptune Ave, they may not be ready to give it up.

On Thursday artist-inresidence Graham Mackie called a meeting of local creatives to decide if it would be feasible to pursue the space as a full-time artist hub.

The hub would aim to provide a space for local exhibitions and workshops, classes, artist mentoring, and would also be used as a communal working space and resource centre.

"I've got my own studio but a lot of people haven't got anything, and look what happens when they do, Mr Mackie said, gesturing to the wall-to-wall artworks.

"The consensus opinion of spectators this year has just been 'wow, wow, wow', so that's where we started thinking we should try to keep this because there's nothing else around."

Art teacher Fiona Nicholls agreed, noting the building hired for this year's Plunge hub was perfect for group art exhibitions and as a teaching facility for artists to come and gather and create.

Over the past month she has used the space to exhibit her works and continue creating among like-minded people.

"Because it's in the industrial area, opposite Island Collective, which has become a happening little art place, people have been popping in and out and appreciating that this particular space is perfect...

"There's never really been anything in Yamba where artists can come collaborate and also do their work. I'd love to have a studio in here."

With no shortage of people power to make the art hub idea happen, their biggest hurdle is likely to funding.

Over three years, the cost of rent, insurance, power and water has been estimated at $65,000-$80,000.

"The next step will be to put together a business plan with the help of Arts Northern Rivers and put the proposal to (the owner of the space)," Mr Mackie said.

"There's facility grants and all sorts of things, we've just got to get them."



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