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“I’ve made heaps of friends, and have also learned lots of new things, like how to work with wood, make poppies for ANZAC Day and be more independent”, says The Shed Creative Space artist Finn Alty.

Artists Ellie Leavens and Finn Alty with Jo Picot, Anna Burns and Aki Baggott
Artists Ellie Leavens and Finn Alty with Jo Picot, Anna Burns and Aki Baggott

The Kāpiti creative space operates under the umbrella of The Shed Project Kāpiti, which was founded by Denis Wood in 2014 to enable inclusion, and improve the lives of young men with intellectual disabilities and marginalised young men.

“At first, we provided a service one day a week,” Denis says. “Within six months we were operating five days a week as a self-funded community organisation, which included a creative space as part of our other social services and business operations.

“Three-year funding from Manatū Taonga the Ministry of Art and Culture gave us the opportunity to offer an independent, well-resourced creative space to a wider section of the community.”

The Shed Creative Space  was set up in 2021 and its Manager, Jo Picot, says most of the people at The Shed Project Kāpiti also attend the creative space.

Contributing to people's wellbeing

“The funding has enabled us expand our reach and include more people,” she says. “We are extremely happy to contribute to people’s wellbeing and development.”

Tutor Aki Baggot with artist Ellie Leavens
Tutor Aki Baggott with artist Ellie Leavens

The creative space has several projects in the works.

“We have an exhibition planned at the Gillian Deane Gallery in Waikanae,” Jo says. “Following that, we will be participating in the Kāpiti Arts Trail for the first time, and then we will have our first drama show in July.

“These are awesome opportunities to promote our artists and their work, and also promote our place in the local arts community. Some of our artists enter the IHC Art Awards and often are accepted in the top one hundred artworks in New Zealand.

“We are also continuing to build awareness of The Shed Creative Space by launching our website and becoming involved with community arts projects.”

Jo says The Shed Project Creative Space values inclusion and collaboration.

Policy of inclusion

“The Shed Creative Space has a policy of inclusion, where any person of any background and life experience is welcome to volunteer, attend or tutor at the studio.

Artists Ellie Leavens and Finn Alty with tutor Jo
Artists Ellie Leavens and Finn Alty with Manager Jo Picot 

“We work with many community organisations: for example, local colleges and youth groups, and also local community mental health and disability services.

“Collaborations with other local community groups include art exhibitions, installations, dance shows, dances and spoken word performances. Some of our tutors are involved in other community groups so there is a fluid and wonderful crossover of connections.”

Jo enjoys the variety of her role. “This role is challenging but also incredibly rewarding. I love how my day can change so quickly and no two days are ever the same. It makes it a vibrant and exciting place to work.”

Finn Alty enjoys doing drama but says his favourite activity is dancing. “I choreographed and taught the 'Git Up' to our other dancers and even teachers, which made me feel great!”

Artist Ellie Leavens, who is homeschooled, enjoys learning new things. “It’s great knowing that I can progress and learn more about each subject if I want to.”

She also enjoys the relaxed, non-competitive atmosphere and not having to worry about grades. She would like to learn pottery, as well as continuing to paint, which she says is her favourite medium.


Opportunities galore at Kāpiti creative space


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