News | 22 February 2023
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Re-imagining Toi Pōneke Arts Centre

Toi Pōneke Arts Centre’s lease term expires in 2025, so now’s the perfect time to think about what a more accessible, inclusive arts centre model, which meets the needs of diverse communities, could look like – so let’s kōrero.

Exterior fisheye view of Toi Pōneke building on Abel Smith Street.
Toi Pōneke

Wellington City Council has operated Toi Pōneke Arts Centre since 2005, supporting hundreds of artists and organisations through providing subsidised studios, rehearsal rooms, exhibition space, resources, and programmes.

But the building has some challenges including poor accessibility and, by the nature of its layout, has struggled to facilitate effective collaboration and community networking.

Through the Aho Tini 2030 Arts, Culture, and Creativity Strategy, Council is committed to supporting artists and creative groups and organisations, so is taking this opportunity to give everyone a say with the ‘Reimagining Toi Pōneke’ project.

Following on from consultation with the Toi Pōneke community, and feedback from the Aho Tini 2030 Strategy, a wider audience is invited to have their say through an online survey and by participating in a series of interactive talks with a line-up of inspiring speakers, including Ariki Brightwell, Tānemahuta Gray, and Gaylene Preston.

You can find the online survey here.

Manager City Arts Andy Lowe says the upcoming interactive talks will be a great chance for people to participate, interact and engage in the conversation.

“The series of five talks in March will take place in the wider network of our city’s creative spaces, offering suitable platforms for open discussion and to get input on how best to support art practices in Pōneke.

“We will introduce some themes for consideration regarding art practices that tie in with what we’re already hearing from the community and will be encouraging new views and feedback too.”

Other key discussion points include artist development, providing career pathways, and demonstrating a true partnership with mana whenua and Māori around the creative sector.

Toi Pōneke Talks

Artists as community builders
Tānemahuta Gray, Herbert Bartley, Ariki Brightwell
Wed 1 Mar | 4pm–6pm | Te Haukāinga-Taki Rua

This talk invites discussion around the relationship between a physical space, an arts group and the community that’s generated.

Running spaces to sustain practice
Nicoletta Mancuso, Leilani Sio, Nina Nawalowalo
Thu 9 March | 5–7pm | Vogelmorn Bowling Club

In a city where real estate is expensive, how do you sustain your art practice and practitioners? Hear from creatives whose space is supporting their mahi.

Arts kaupapa & spaces of past and future
Nicola Pauling (Voice Arts Trust), Sarah Lee (Commonspace)
Wed 15 Mar | 5–7pm | Hannah Playhouse

Over the years many artist groups have formed manifestos or guidelines that inform their work and management of spaces. These become kaupapa for why, as well as how to make work. In this talk we will explore these together and hear from artists who have formed collectives.

Te whare tapere – what kind of spaces are needed to support Māori artists?
Wiremu Grace, Nicola Hyland, Natalie Jones
Fri 24 Mar | 10am-1pm| Te Rau Karamu Marae – Massey University

What are the kinds of spaces we need to support te ao Māori artists? One possibility is Charles Royal’s model based on pre-colonial whare tapere model, a house of entertainment.

Making and creating for different audiences
Ra Vincent, Gaylene Preston, Susana Lei’ataua, Grace Hoete
Wed 29 Mar | 5pm–7pm | Toi Pōneke Arts Centre

What is it to make work for community and what is it to make work for the professional market? How does it inform the space? Can we create an art space that is engaging, nurturing and authentic while also supporting professional, innovative and polished work?

For more information and to register for an interactive talk, visit and search ‘Toi Pōneke Talks’, or visit the Council’s Re-imagining Toi Pōneke Let’s Talk page.

Visit the Council’s feedback page to give your input online up until 5pm Sunday 9 April at