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Community creatives . . . Voice Youth Art project workshop tutor Michele Beaufoy and students (from left) Destiny Mehrtens (18), Nadia Te Au (16) and Tyson Cunningham (18) have been taking part in weekly workshops at Ara. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

Young artists from around South Canterbury are gearing up for the annual Voice Youth Art Awards in mid-June.

The annual competition includes a series of art workshops before the awards, for young residents who are either part of a YMCA programme or studying through Community College South Canterbury, tutor and programme co-organiser Anna Reihana said.

The half-day workshops provided art education to the young residents, as a way to encourage them to enter the awards and also explore their artistic talents, she said.

“So they are getting to connect with art-making as an opportunity for wellbeing and [also as a potential] career opportunity.”

The workshops are a collaboration between the South Canterbury District Health Board’s Well-being and Vitality in Education (Wave) team and YMCA South and Mid Canterbury.

“It is about encouraging South Canterbury young people’s talents.”

Ms Reihana, who is the Wave facilitator but also has an art degree, said the sessions were funded through Creative Communities grants.

Ara had also supported the scheme by providing a classroom space and art expertise of tutors.

The weekly gatherings varied in size depending on the commitments of the students, she said.

Residents in South Canterbury aged between 12 and 24 can enter as many artworks as they want in the Voice awards.

Styles often ranged from paintings and drawings to print-making, sculpture, film and photography and mixed media artworks.

Ms Reihana said the awards were a chance to celebrate South Canterbury’s youth.

The entire awards evening and exhibition opening was led by young residents, including MCing the event, catering it and providing entertainment, she said.

“They run the whole night.”

“It is about encouraging South Canterbury young people’s talents.”

This tied into the exhibition’s theme “We are more than you see”, which was also the theme of Youth Week 2019, which was held last week.

The Voice Youth Art Awards will run from June 18-21 in the Timaru District Council Chambers in Barnard St. Opening night, which includes the awards ceremony, will be held at 6.30pm on June 18.