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Community Art Works: a reason to get out of bed

Creative space: Community Art Works, Nelson

Expressing yourself through art is an essential part of life. You don't have to be a fine artist to create art. If it pleases you and makes you happy then you need to do it," says Faye Wulff, Co-ordinator of Community Art Works (CAW) in Nelson.

Established 20 years ago, CAW caters for people who cannot access art programmes via the mainstream. This includes people with disabilities, disconnected youth, people with experience of mental ill-health or referred through the justice system.

CAW's success with those undertaking community work or restorative justice was highly commended at the national  Big 'A' Art Awards 2013. CAW received the Prison Arts Community Award for its partnership with Nelson Community Probation. A range of tasks are undertaken by participants. These includes painting the walls, tidying the outside area, working alongside the artists or helping to make props for the float in Nelson’s annual Christmas Parade.

The Alice in Wonderland performance at the Nelson Public Library, December 2009“Our artists love the extra attention, and it gives them more of a sense of community and social inclusion,” she says. “For the people on probation it can be just as valuable. They learn understanding and tolerance, and it can make them see how fortunate they are.”

The economic downturn, government cost-cutting measures and pressure on philanthropic trusts prompted a change in focus for Community Art Works. “It’s meant we’ve returned to our community roots and have broadened our client base to include everyone,” Faye says.

The Nelson creative space is staffed by several professional artists, and also provides work experience for polytechnic and college students. Faye is dedicated both to her role at Community Art Works and to the arts, which she believes are an expression of humanity and vital to our survival.  

A number of artists at Community Art Works have told Faye that it is a place of healing and gives them a reason to get up in the morning.

The premises at 25 Paru Paru Rd, provided by the Nelson City Council for a peppercorn rent, can accommodate up to 25 people per session. Programmes are based around art, music, dance and literature, with computers and the internet available to assist artists in their work.

Community Art Works has a float in the annual Nelson Christmas Parade

CAW exhibits at least three times a year; sells artworks at festivals and markets; takes part in Nelson’s mask and Christmas parades; and enters at least 25 students into the annual IHC Telecom Art Awards. 

It is also involved in a number of other projects. Photos capturing some of these projects can be viewed on its website.

“We are trying to introduce more courses for the general public because there’s a lot of interest in what we do,” Faye says.

People who attend Community Art Works pay $7 per session.

For more information, contact:
Faye Wulff, Co-ordinator
Community Art Works, Nelson
T: +64 3 545 9976

Last updated 23 October 2013

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