Sue Keong believes merging two art groups has reinvigorated Warwick’s creative community.
Sue Keong believes merging two art groups has reinvigorated Warwick’s creative community. Mike Nolan

Bright future for merging artists

THE Warwick Artists Group has started a six-month-long program of classes and exhibitions designed to entice new members, following a merger with the Rose City's textile group.

The group's secretary Clare Cotton said membership numbers in both clubs had been falling due to illness, an aging population and administrative burdens, but hoped the merger would spark new interest.

"Last year there weren't enough people to keep the club going. We had less than 20 members across the two groups. Now we already have more than doubled that number," Ms Cotton said.

Ms Cotton's efforts to reinvigorate the group were helped by a $3850 grant from the Regional Arts Development Fund, with money coming from the Arts council and the Southern Downs Regional Council.

Along with helping to fund classes, the money will be spent refurbishing their Willi St studio, which the organisers hope will serve as an artistic and social hub where aspiring painters and craftspeople can meet, practice their skills and work toward holding exhibitions.

"One of our members, Juanita Faint, has work on display at Just Because in Palmerin St and we also have shows at Café Jacqui's and Jour de Vivre on King St," Ms Cotton said.

Sue Keong volunteered to run drawing classes last year and said joining the group was a good way to socialise.

Part of the recruitment drive involves targeting younger members by offering night classes.

"Our youngest member is in grade 11," Ms Cotton said.

Despite the passion of the organisers she said red tape made it hard to keep going.

"In order to qualify for funding we need to have a president, a treasurer, a secretary and spend hours doing paper work," she said.

"I think I spent close to 150 hours filling out the paperwork to qualify for this last grant, and that kind of pressure can be too much."

Group members aim to bring the entire region's creative clubs under one administrative body which would help the club focus on making art and having fun.

"We could have one president and one secretary who could do all the paperwork for all the different clubs and maybe they could get paid for their time," Ms Cotton said.

The Artists Group has been running for more than 50 years and Ms Cotton hopes recent efforts will ensure another 50 years.

For information on activities call 4661 5783 or visit the Warwick Artists Group on Facebook.



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