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Bic Runga kickstarts The Arts Centre's renewed Creative Residencies programme

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Critically-acclaimed Kiwi songwriter, musician, vocalist and producer Bic Runga is the first participant in The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora’s reinstated Creative Residencies programme, 20 years after it launched.

The Auckland-based artist - who was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to music in 2006 and inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2016 - will complete a two-part residency in a freshly restored and strengthened building in the Christchurch cultural centre. She will be in residence in April and May and then return for a week in July to hold workshops.

The residency apartments were closed, alongside the rest of the centre’s category one heritage buildings, after the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes badly damaged the buildings. Consequently, the residency programme had been on hiatus - until now.

As the independent charitable trust’s $290 million restoration programme progresses, buildings are being reopened to the public. Two more, including the residencies’ building, opened last month, marking the two-thirds point in the restoration.

Bic says she is excited to return to her hometown to research and create new work and share her skills and expertise through song-writing workshops.

"This residency is a wonderful chance for me to reconnect with my Ōtautahi roots and give back to a community that has been through so much.

"To be based in such a beautiful Aotearoa heritage landmark steeped in so much arts and cultural history and where many great creators have been before me is a real honour. I can’t wait to see the impact it’ll have on my song writing."

Arts Centre chief executive Philip Aldridge says it is great privilege to have such an accomplished and well-respected artist to relaunch the Creative Residencies programme.

"For eight years The Arts Centre has been working to restore memories, so far reopening 15 buildings to enable spaces for creative endeavour to flourish once again. To be able to re-launch the valuable Creative Residencies programme with an artist as incredible as Bic is a huge milestone.

"We’re looking forward to having her help enliven The Arts Centre and share her amazing matatau (skill) and mahi (work) with our community."

Philip says the programme aims to foster creative, intellectual and professional growth for artists and creative practitioners; provide a place for the development of new projects; and create a forum for dialogue and for the people of Christchurch and visitors to engage with new ideas and experiences.

Prior to the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes, The Arts Centre had a thriving and well-regarded Creative Residencies programme that had been running for more than 10 years. There were two artist-in-residence apartments, one of which was for the Olivia Spencer Bower Award winner and the other for shorter stays.

Residents included a broad range of local, regional, national and international artists such as Michel Tuffery (visual arts), Raewyn Hill (dance), Michael Brennand-Wood from the United Kingdom (visual arts), Mahinarangi Tocker (music), Lauren Lysart (visual arts), Zoe Roland (film), Tim Main (object art), Charlotte Yates (music), Amy X Neuburg from the United States of America (music) and Areta Wilkinson (visual arts/jewellery).

The accessible residences are now home to four bedroom-bathroom suites and their shared kitchen and living areas provide a unique opportunity for artists to meet and develop relationships with other creatives.

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