Melanie English and Anita Longmuir have been busy in Wagin sanding floors and fixing up the front room of the old butcher’s shop at Tavistock Street to fulfil a shared creative vision. The artists have been using the space as a studio and once the work is done the building will be transformed into a hub connecting the region’s creative community. “There’s a lot to be said for fellow creatives getting together so you don’t feel like you’re on your own,” Longmuir said. “Especially out in the country — when you find like-minded people, it’s gold.” A professional photographer, English is keen to cultivate artistic expression in Wagin and beyond. “Some people scratched their heads and asked why in Wagin, but it makes sense on a few different levels,” she said. “We wanted to have a creative space here because it’s quite central. “The facade will undergo changes — we want it to look great and be available for a multitude of uses and be a meeting place for the community.” Longmuir is also getting ready to launch a fortnightly arts club for kids in Katanning, Wagin, Narrogin, Williams and Boddington. “I wanted to do an art club rather than classes,” she said. “It will give kids a chance to dip their toe in and have a go at everything. “We’ll work towards an exhibition at the end of the year which will be a really good experience for them.” Last year, Longmuir provided free art workshops for youth in Narrogin and Wagin as part of the Pingelly Brookton Local Drug Action Team Within Your Wallet program coordinated by Holyoake. The experience had a profound impact on the multidisciplinary artist. “The kids that came along not feeling like they belonged anywhere found each other and blossomed,” she said. “There’s a real therapeutic benefit for youth especially from expressing themselves through art if they can’t in other ways. “If they can learn from the get-go to have faith and confidence in their ability and work, it will set them up in the long run.” PBLDAT and program lead agency Pingelly CRC has provided funding for the Within Your Wallet art initiative to take place in Wagin and Narrogin again this year. Free weekly classes running from 4pm to 6pm will kick off in Wagin at 16 Tavistock Street on February 13 and at the Narrogin Regional Leisure Centre on February 15. At the classes, kids will be designing a mural that will be painted courtside at the Narrogin Regional Leisure Centre. Classes are capped at 10 and registration forms are available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/XR5NL37.