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Our History

Arrowtown is a strong “arts” small town – a village and rural area chosen by many talented arts people as the place they want to live. It has a significant number of residents who are either arts practitioners or have a strong arts interest.

This had been a “loose” arts community, which wasn’t well connected. In 2016 a group of people – mainly arts practitioners – decided the local arts scene could be greatly improved by forming a society which attempted to give it better focus.

Opera in the Garden

The first ACAS project was taking management of the Arrowtown Spring Arts Festival – a now biannual event whose future had been threatened by the departure overseas of its owner-founder. In 2018 ACAS achieved its status as a registered charity. And in 2019 ACAS launched its very popular Twilight Opera in the beautiful Dalefield gardens of our supporters, Margot and Bruce Robinson.

ACAS now has more than 250 members – a significant penetration in a town of Arrowtown’s size. It has become a local arts entrepreneur which successfully manages and finances frequent concerts, recitals, exhibitions, talks, and classes. It also helps publicise (and sometimes finance) non ACAS arts events.

ACAS Workshops

This “steering committee” set an objective of launching with 30 founding members, but there were double that number on board when the inaugural meeting of the Arrowtown Creative Arts Society was held in February 2017. The ACAS logo – the eye-catching “Mona Lisa + Sardine Can Key” motif - was created by founding committee member, David John. Newspaper columnist John Lapsley chaired the first meeting.

Other founders, Sue Marshall and Jane Pestell-Litten, provided member and event news via the high quality ArtyFacts e-magazine they’d already created.

Spring Arts Festival

Most ACAS funding comes via a combination of financially successful key events, a small network of generous local benefactors, and its membership fees. It also receives financial support from the Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association, makes occasional applications for specific event grants, and is helped by QLDC’s co-operative venue management staff.

Like most successful societies ACAS’s success relies on the work and talent of its committee members. Since its founding, ACAS has been chaired by John Lapsley, Mairi Raby, Barry Litten and Paul Rea.

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