Plea to focus on Sammy’s as music venue

Sammy’s, the former His Majesty’s Theatre, has been ruled out as a new theatre for the city, due...
The DCC bought the ageing nightspot for $128,000 in 2017 with the intention of redeveloping it as part of an arts hub. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Dunedin City Council should focus on resurrecting Sammy’s rather than investing in a building it does not own, a prominent figure in the Dunedin music scene says.

Councillors will hear submissions on the council’s 10-year plan from Monday, and a plea to develop former live music venue Sammy’s will be presented.

Scott Muir. Photo: ODT files
Scott Muir. Photo: ODT files

The council bought the ageing nightspot for $128,000 in 2017 with the intention of redeveloping it as part of an arts hub.

The Chills manager and director Scott Muir has submitted such a venue should have been a higher priority for the council than its Athenaeum theatre proposal.

"What’s missing [from the Dunedin music scene] is a careful reimagining of the iconic Sammy’s performance space to fill the sorely missed gap for our local community."

Mr Muir said the consultation document proposed to refurbish buildings not owned by the council, rather than develop ones it did such as Sammy’s and the Fortune Theatre.

"This makes no sense, especially given the DCC has already budgeted around $5million towards Sammy’s rehabilitation."

A venue with a standing capacity of 500-800 people was needed and the city should be proud of its musical heritage and the Dunedin Sound, he said.

The council had indicated support for Sammy’s previously and "it would seem some voices are more important than others under the Ara Toi strategy.

"Our elected representatives have all publicly indicated support for redevelopment of the Sammy’s building," Mr Muir said.

In another submission Dunedin resident Georgi Hampton said the city lacked smaller music venues and those that existed "operate under the threat of being shut down by noise complaints".

"The success of the Dunedin independent music community has often been in spite of the DCC and its support."

She would like to see more transparency from the council on why Sammy’s was not being considered as a performing arts hub, she said.

In a public-excluded session on December 14 last year the council considered and rejected Sammy’s and the Fortune Theatre as possible theatre sites, in favour of developing the Athenaeum or Mayfair Theatre instead.

According to minutes publicly released in January this year, Sammy’s would have been taken back to a shell and a purpose-built theatre constructed inside at a cost of $38 million over four years, to be funded by debt.

It would have an annual operating cost of $4.36 million once built.

The council’s preferred option of the Athenaeum would cost $17 million, with an annual operating cost of $4.59 million.

All councillors voted for the preferred option of the Athenaeum and an alternative option of the Mayfair Theatre, except for Cr Mike Lord, who voted against, and Cr Lee Vandervis, who left earlier in the meeting.

- By Andrew Marshall


A D12 and a wrecking ball and hey presto a new car park. Goodbye to a dump that will suck up millions in ratepayers' money.

Have to agree. Purchasing that building, while probably done with the best of intentions, was a big mistake.
The previous owner must have been ecstatic to get out of it with some money in the pocket.

The DCC own the Building but not the land

Hawkins lead the charge to purchase Sammies which appears to be Top secret until the news broke that they had taken ownership, Best intentions my back side, they never advised what deal was done with the owner when the new broke.

Save the rate payers some more coin and demolish the building, auction off the seats and any other parts that people might be interested in.

But wait do the DCC own the building or just lease it? if they lease it, the upkeep should rest on the owner.

Demolish it and turn it into a Carpark.



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