$320,000 for performing arts chance to 'get it right'

A $320,000 injection of government cash into performing arts in Dunedin has been hailed as a chance to ''really get it right'' after the demise of the Fortune Theatre.

Creative New Zealand (CNZ) has announced $120,000, which will be added to $200,000 already announced by the Dunedin City Council, towards a feasibility study that will consider the state of venues in Dunedin and present options for a new venue.

CNZ also announced $100,000 a year for two years towards new works by established theatre practitioners in Dunedin.

That will be added to the $95,000 a year funding from the council.

Council Ara Toi group manager Nick Dixon said the council had already advertised for a consultant to do the feasibility study.

''Both parties are committed to this, and both are putting our money where our mouths are.

''I'm feeling like we're in a good place with this, and we've got a really good opportunity to really get it right this time.''

Mr Dixon hoped to have a consultant in place by the end of September to take on the study.

There would be three phases to the work.

The first would be engaging with the creative community to look at the way performing arts institutions were trading and operating to discover what did and did not work.

That would include studying ''in forensic detail'' what happened at the Fortune Theatre.

The study would create a vision for the future of the performing arts.

Phase two would look at options for achieving the vision. Phase three would provide a concept of how that would work.

''We're looking for something sustainable, which maintains professional theatre and the performing arts more generally in the city, and does it on a sustainable basis.''

The study would look at buildings in the city to decide what the best venue for professional theatre would be.

Mr Dixon said the Fortune's demise had been bad news for the city, people employed there, and the trust that ran it.

''This has given us the opportunity to build on that bad news and take it forward into a good news story. I think it's an exciting project.''

He hoped the feasibility study would be completed by mid-2019.

Mr Dixon said the $195,000 a year funding for the next two years from CNZ and the council would be handed out through the council grants programme.

The CNZ money came after discussions with the council following the Fortune Theatre closure.

A $5000 cap on grants the council applied in the past had been removed, and people could apply both to bring touring theatre to Dunedin, or pay for local work to be produced.

Council community and culture committee chairman Cr Aaron Hawkins said the funding would give Dunedin the opportunity to examine not just the performance spaces it needed but also the operating models to support them.




I hope this really is a feasibility study and not a justification study for development of the Sammy's building. Not that it is a bad idea to have a modern thearter with multiple spaces. It's just a bad idea if the council wants to own and run it! For example spending $320,000 on a report.