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Community of creatives


Step into snails artist run space and you'll be immersed in a world of art and creativity.
The communal space is packed with colourful quirky objects and artworks in a range of mediums. Retro carpet bunting hangs from the ceiling and each piece of upcycled furniture has a story. It’s a visual feast that represents Palmy’s diverse arts community. “I think the thing about this space is that we can’t have complete control over what it looks like. No one can. It’s a group of creative people who are chucking stuff in so it’s quite visually loaded,” artist and co-founder Kirsty Porter says. Run as a charitable trust, Snails is housed in the historic Cosmopolitan Club Building on the corner of Cuba and Taonui streets. It’s a safe, “all-ages” space run by a collective of local artists who are committed to making the arts more visible. “It’s about valuing art and the people that make this community, this region more vibrant,” says artist Sarah Bingle. Bingle and Porter founded Snails in 2014 with a simple vision in mind. “We wanted to create a space to make art in the broad sense - visual and music,” Bingle says. “It grew organically.” Today, Snails hosts workshops, art exhibitions, freeform dance sessions, and performances - all of them open to the public
The venue has become a hot spot for gigs too. A variety of bands take to the stage, from local rock and roll bands to adventurous, fringe bands on the national tour circuit. “We don’t really go out of our way to ask people to come and play here. They come to us”. Snails offers a safe alternative to the pub music scene. They welcome people of all ages and there’s zero tolerance for harassment and violence. “We’re not a bar. When you come here, you’re engaging. You’re consciously listening to the music. It’s not just having some beers and there’s a band playing,” Bingle explains. Snails also has an exhibition space and 11 private studios where local artists practice their crafts, from painting and writing, to tattooing. It’s home to Tiny Club too - a collective of electronic music artists that share gear and knowledge and foster their own sub-community.
Snails Arts and Culture theatre in Palmerston North Manawatu
Snails Arts and Culture space in Palmerston North Manawatu
Snails is more than a venue. It’s a place where people find a sense of belonging and nurture their wellbeing. The organisation has an inclusive ethos and they’re not afraid to address thought-provoking themes such as body positivity, global warming and decolonisation. “For some people, being given a space and the opportunity to express themselves creatively for no outcome other than the act of creativity is just as empowering as playing sport,” Bingle says. They work hard to remove financial barriers for artists. It costs them money to host events, so Porter says they’re grateful for the funding they receive through the council’s Strategic Priority Fund. “It’s awesome. We couldn’t do it without that support.” Porter and Bingle have exciting plans for 2023. They’ll host Tristan Dingeman’s new psychedelic rock band Kāhu Rōhā and will put systems in place to curate events with a bit more of a “Snails flavour”, Porter says. A night out at The Pyramid Club in Wellington has inspired the pair to mix things up with some improv nights and make room for “happy accidents”. “You’ll meet your band at soundcheck, and then you’ll play your gig… there’s so much freedom in that… and because people know they’re coming to improv there’s not this kind of feeling that you have to get it right,” Porter says. It’s all about getting back to their roots. “We want to take that preciousness, that nervousness out of being creative and having fun like you did when you were a kid.”
Snails Arts and Culture space in Palmerston North Manawatu⧉ Story from Palmy Proud >>

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