DVML: groups to have access to venues

The Skeggs Gallery at the Municipal Chambers. Photos by Linda Robertson and Gerard O'Brien.
The Skeggs Gallery at the Municipal Chambers. Photos by Linda Robertson and Gerard O'Brien.
A lounge suite at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
A lounge suite at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The head of the company in charge of Forsyth Barr Stadium and other city venues says that community groups will be catered for at its facilities, despite a $100,000 fund to help them having been deferred.

But the future of community groups' use of the popular Skeggs Gallery in the Municipal Chambers has not been decided.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML) chief executive David Davies said, while the matters would be addressed in the company's statement of intent, it may not be a "cure-all".

The council recently decided against including in its annual budget a $100,000 fund to subsidise groups using former council-controlled facilities that are now controlled by DVML.

DVML has been given the responsibility of running the stadium, the Dunedin Centre, Municipal Chambers and town hall complex, and the Edgar Centre.

At the council's annual plan meetings last week, the idea for the fund was left on the list of "unfunded" items that will be included for the public to consider as part of consultation.

While that does not mean the proposal has been abandoned, it would appear less likely to come to fruition as the council was keen to keep to a tight budget.

A report to the meetings from governance manager Sandy Graham said, before the redevelopment of the Municipal Chambers, council departments and community groups had access to facilities there at little or no cost.

There were more than 150 bookings a year for the Skeggs Gallery, which is in the Municipal Chambers.

Under council policy, many groups paid commercial rates, but council departments used it free of charge, and community groups free at the discretion of Mayor Dave Cull.

Now the redevelopment was complete, DVML charged $400 a day, or $250 a half-day, to use the Skeggs Gallery, with no free access for the council or community groups.

"There are also issues associated with the ability of community groups to hire other DVML facilities - notably the stadium," Ms Graham said in the report.

The mayor's discretionary fund of $40,000 would not cover the costs of hiring facilities.

The report said DVML's statement of intent, expected to be presented to the finance, strategy and development committee next week, might address the matter.

Mr Cull said, with the $100,000 fund going on the unfunded list, he expected the council to consider other ways to deal with the matter.

"It's not so much a stadium thing," he said, despite Ms Graham's mention of that facility in her report.

The discretionary fund had not been used in the past for hiring the rooms. Instead, they had just been provided free of charge.

Mr Cull said he expected DVML's statement of intent would include policies to provide for groups' use of its facilities.

DVML's previous statement of intent, released last year before the stadium opened, said that the company was "aware of and sensitive to the community's needs, and acts in a caring and responsible manner".

It promised to make its facilities available at affordable rates; encourage community use of the stadium; seek out and encourage groups currently unable to use its venues; establish its own community scheme at the stadium; and develop community initiatives at the town hall and Dunedin Centre.

Mr Davies said this week the company recognised the community aspect of its role, and concerts like "The Big Night In", and the use of the stadium last year by a school group, showed that.

It would continue with those initiatives, and that would be formally documented in the statement of intent.

In terms of spaces like the Skeggs Gallery, that was a matter still to be fully discussed, he said.

- david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

DVML price list
Dunedin Venues Management Ltd hire costs.

- Skeggs Gallery (Municipal Chambers, holds about 100 people): $400 a day, $250 a half-day.
- Smaller suite (Forsyth Barr Stadium, holds 69 people): $300 a day.
- Lounge suite (Forsyth Barr Stadium, holds 700 people): More than $1000 a day.


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