A NEW shop and gallery specialising in wearable art will be officially opened today as part of the Bega Valley Shire Council’s Renew the Valley project to fill empty shopfronts across the shire.
The RedPeg Eco Studio and Gallery is located in a small shopfront in the old Kings Cinema on Carp St, Bega.
Proprietor Gabrielle McGrath began her artistic career as a sculptor, but found her preference was for smaller art pieces, such as the earrings, rings and striking pendants on display in her new art space.
Ms McGrath and her partner Michael moved to the shire from Armidale about 12 months ago and set up house in Bega where she had been working from her home studio.
Then she read the publicity about the Renew the Valley program, which matches people wishing to open a shop or gallery with empty commercial properties that the owners are prepared to offer free of rent.
Her initial reaction to the Renew the Valley program was “it’s too good to be true”, but, with nothing to lose, she submitted an application and was delighted when the council’s community engagement and planning coordinator, Rebecca Bogie, teamed her with landlord Warren Page, who approved her as a tenant for his small shopfront.
“We are happy to be involved in a scheme that stops the main street from looking vacant while at the same time helping new people try out their business idea and see if it is viable,” Mr Page said.
“The RedPeg Eco Studio/Gallery adds some interest to this end of town and fills a space that has a long history of successful businesses, like Mumford Books, our real estate office, a gift shop, a dress shop.”
Ms McGrath said the site is ideal for her business.
“Most of my pieces are small so I don’t need a lot of space, but I still have room to craft the items”, she said.
“It has a couple of lovely old-fashioned windows and the displays have been drawing people into the shop since I opened.”
Ms Bogie said the RedPeg was just the kind of business she envisaged to help stimulate towns in the shire towns with empty shop spaces.
She said the Artz Gallery, a collective of local artists with a range of wares that opened as a Renew the Valley project in Merimbula just before Christmas, was reporting strong interest and happy artists and artisans.
RedPeg will be official opened from 5pm Tuesday.
For more information on the Renew the Valley project, visit www.begavalley.nsw.gov.au.