Summer Startup where are they now series #01: BFA to Studio Manager

25 June 2018

From BFA(Hons) to Studio Manager, UC alumna, Hannah Watkinson, opens up about her journey to The Corner Store, a 5-in-one café, bar, gallery, event and studio space for 15+ artists!

  • UCE Alumni Hannah Watkinson

    UC alumna, Hannah Watkinson, BFA(Hons) at her new permanent space, The Corner Store, 314 Cashel St, Christchurch.

The Corner Store Hannah Watkinson

Interior of Hannah Watkinson's new permanent space, The Corner Store, 314 Cashel St.

What are you currently doing now?

I am studio manager of The Corner Store which is artist studios for 15 artists, a bar, coffee shop and a gallery all in one. The gallery part started during the UCE Summer Startup Programme 2015/16 and continued during the UCE Summer Startup Programme 2016/17, I did it twice! The gallery part is still the basis but has been added to over the past few years. 

Have you made any major pivots or changes since the Summer Startup Programme?

Not really, with my goal of wanting a gallery that people to feel comfortable to be in, everything I do has a purpose in making people want to hang out here. The biggest change has been moving from a transitional space to a permanent space.

What would be your biggest takeaway from the Programme?

I think that if you knew everything that was involved in what you wanted to do, you wouldn’t start. I believe you need an element of naivety to think ‘yeah I can do that’, to mentally cope with what’s ahead.

If you had to describe the UCE Summer Startup Programme in one word, what word would you choose?

Support. The Summer Startup Programme gave me a lot of support - not just in a business sense but from the people that helped you with getting your head around everything. In business, stakes are a lot higher than most everyday jobs and sometimes you just need people around you that get that.

What was your favourite social part of the Programme?

The people I met are still some of my best friends. Yesterday, I saw three people that I am still friends with from the first Programme. It is so nice to have those people that are on the same journey as you and just get it. No one else can really understand on the same level.

What helped you to decide in the first place to apply?

Internships Coordinator, Stephan Hardman, and others encouraged me to look at my art degree as more than your standard option. Without that degree, I’d probably be an inexperienced business owner. Learning how to manage your time and deal with the highs and lows of inspiration and motivation in an art degree is pretty similar in owning a business.

Finally, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking of applying?

When I applied I only expected to run a really low key gallery for just 8 weeks. If anyone told me that in 3 years time I’d be running a bar, a café, an artist space and a gallery I wouldn’t have gone near it. So, if you are prepared to see where things take you, the UCE Summer Startup Programme is the best starting point.


For more information on the UCE Summer Startup Programme click here.

To register your interest in the Programme email


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