Mersey Arts Zone: New Brighton’s very own creative space

Dawn Reck moved to New Brighton from Liverpool 20 years ago but she missed the city and its culture. In 2019, Mersey Arts Zone (MAZ) was born of an idea from her creative mind.

birkenhead.news spoke to Dawn about the whats, whys, and wherefores of Mersey Arts Zone. “At the start of my career, I worked with Bryan Biggs at The Bluecoat in Liverpool, the oldest contemporary gallery in the U.K.”, she said.

“I was living off Lark Lane in Liverpool in the 80’s which had a thriving artistic community and still does today.  Some years later, I moved to Wirral and I worked in the charity sector for the last 14 years and decided to leave my job as a Partnership Manager.”, she continued.

It was then that Dawn reflected on where she had started in her career and where she now was. “I knew there was something missing.”, she said. “I had always been involved in art and music and loved all forms of creativity.”

The art and music scene was what she needed to focus on, for the remaining years in her working life. “Over the last decade, I have noticed creatives are inspired to stay in Wirral and make their mark here.”, Dawn explained.

“Wirral has a beautiful coastline and a friendly community with many artists living here”, Dawn said. “When I am out walking you can’t fail to notice the beautiful scenery and art that is all around us.”

So, in the Summer of 2019, Dawn left her job and was looking to set up a creative space in New Brighton. “It’s a great place to live, it is easy to get to from across the river.”

Dawn worked with a few artists at first and then went on to work with Rockpoint Leisure who have commissioned street art in the Victoria Quarter and now have set up Oakland Gallery. 

“I then started working at NBR as a radio DJ in New Brighton with an alternative music show and also now I’m the Programme Controller.”, she said.  The radio station is in Vale House in Vale Park and after looking for a space to rent, I was offered the downstairs room next to the cafe. 

Having walked past the room for a few months to present her radio show, little did she know, that behind the door was where Mersey Arts Zone would be born.

In late 2019, Dawn started to get ready to move into Vale House and to set up Mersey Arts Zone.  Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Community Action Wirral were a great starting point to help her work on the business side of MAZ. 

A date for March 2020 was set to move in and she began networking with art venues and projects on both sides of the river.  “I wanted MAZ to be a creative space for exhibitions, events and affordable artwork.  It’s for artists, local creatives, musicians and makers to meet up in MAZ and enjoy the space.”, she told us.

Dawn wants people to be inspired by who they meet and what they experienced in MAZ, and to enjoy Vale Park and the river when they visit.

However, when March 2020 arrived, everything changed. “The creative sector was closed down, and MAZ could not be opened as planned. “It’s been uncertain times for everyone.”, she says ruefully, “I am hopeful by this March I can open and people are able to come into the park and enjoy the exhibitions and events throughout the year.”

“Mersey Arts Zone will open and will be a welcoming space for all to enjoy.” she says with determination. “It will grow with the help of all the creatives that get involved and I’ll be collaborating with projects on both sides of the river.”

You can follow Dawn’s journey on the Mersey Arts Zone Facebook and Twitter.

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