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Community support vital to secure ‘big money’ for new creative space

The Old School Arts Centre is asking the Raglan community to dig into their pockets to show support for the building of a new $500,000 creative space.

Fundraising committee member Susanne Giessen Prinz says getting funding from large trusts is dependent on the project being also supported by the community, “then the big dollars will come”.

“They want to see more action, that we are serious and passionate.

“Now we are asking for hand-outs before going for the big dollars from all those trusts.”

The new two-storey creative space will replace the existing Clay Shed and the room used by the Lions to sort second-hand clothing for its opportunity shop, and will include an upstairs black box theatre space. Building is hoped to start in April 2018.

Susanne says the Old School is asking the community to make a tax-deductible pledge or donate goods and services for its Super Summer Bumper Raffle being organised by Bow St Depot owner Heidi Tidmarsh.

“It could be a plumber says if you give me the contract I will give you $5000 in free labour,” says Susanne, who has been going about town infecting business owners with her enthusiasm for the project.

Or maybe Raglan business owners could donate a prize towards the raffle, which has a trip for two to the Gold Coast as its main prize.

Susanne and other supporters of the Old School have been doing a mailbox drop of 1200 letters, asking for pledges.

“The smallest amount will help, it all adds up to the big picture.”

The Old School currently has about $100,000 in the coffers, from money pledged by the Logan Campbell Estate, Trust Waikato and the Raglan Community Board.

Susanne says they hope to raise $20,000 through the community before applying for money to the Lotteries Community Facilities fund in June.

“They double everything we have raised, everything from the smallest amount. That’s why we are so keen for the community to take part.”

Susanne says the arts centre is a hub of activity and a new building will enable the Old School to offer even more creative services in the future.

“When the facilities are bigger we can offer more – that’s what the arts centre is for, it’s to grow the arts.

“I see how much pleasure and happiness the certain activities give to Raglan children. We run to full capacity and with the new building we can fan out to more audiences, embrace more young people.

“On Wednesday for ballet and drama it is just crazy in here and all the mums are sitting here. Most of the children of Raglan get involved in the Old School, even if it is just a cake stall at the market.

“With the new building we will be able to offer way, way more.”

Susanne says the arts centre is also important because it acts like an incubator to help businesses get off the ground.

“The likes of Raglan Coconut and Monster all started at the Old School.”

Dizzy Blocks, Raglan Pie Co and FeastBox all continue to use the commercial kitchen.

Other fundraising initiatives for the new creative space will include travel slide-show evenings at the Old School, with nibbles and drinks.

Susanne says she will be first off the block, on May 5, talking about her experience and showing off her photos from a recent trip to Antarctica. Slide show evenings about Tibet and China will follow.

Inger Vos