Focus on Dunedin’s arts woes

The Fortune Theatre building. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
The Fortune Theatre building. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
An international theatre consultancy has been hired to undertake a more than $300,000 study into Dunedin’s performing arts woes, following the closure of the Fortune Theatre.

Charcoalblue, which has offices around the world,  has worked with theatres across Europe and the United States.

In New Zealand, the company was hired to lead the development for a new Waikato Regional Theatre.

Dunedin City Council Ara Toi group manager Nick Dixon said the company’s Melbourne team would lead the study, which was due to be completed in September next year.

Earlier this year, Creative New Zealand (CNZ) announced $120,000 of funding for a study, which was added to $200,000 already announced by the council.

Mr Dixon said members of the Charcoalblue team  met stakeholders in Dunedin recently. He said the feasibility study would look at what was in place for the performing arts and provide options for performance spaces and the operating models needed to support them. Consultants would work with Dunedin theatre practitioners Stage South to communicate with the city’s creative community.

They would also work with other specialist advisers, including a New Zealand design company.

Mr Dixon said the process was just starting, and Charcoalblue planned to "sit, listen and talk for enough time to really understand the issues".

The first phase would be "understanding what we really want and need in this city."

Once that was agreed among the community, options could be developed.

"Those options might be a venue; it might be more complex than that, it might be a network.

"It might be looking at what we’ve already got and saying ‘well actually we can deliver within the current set of venues, but we maybe need to look at the organisational model or the business model’."

Whatever the result, there would be a robust business plan.

Mr Dixon said there would be discussion about financing once the direction was finalised.

There was a partnership with CNZ, and "what I’m looking for in whatever we come up with is a realistic plan for engaging with a variety of funding sources."

Charcoalblue’s Erin Shepherd said the company had completed 150 projects with theatres around  the world.

"We’re confident that this study will reveal a clear vision for the future of the performing arts in the region".

Meanwhile, the council yesterday announced $80,000 of grants from the new professional theatre fund.

The grants went to eight groups and organisations, including the Arcade Theatre Company and the University of Otago. The fund was established jointly by the council and CNZ after  the Fortune closed.


Mind numbing bureaucratic thinking reminiscent of Yes Minister.
There's no money to keep the theater group running, but there's plenty available to waste on fly in consultants who will tell them they need to allocate more money.

Anyone else see a smudge of silliness here?

I agree but not sure silliness is the word I'd use! Maybe incompetence, and alot more than just a smudge! When will this council show some leadership, they are only interested in avoiding accountability.

Let the market decide. If we do not want to pay to see theatre, then why support it? Why support something that hardly anyone wants with our ratepayer money? And yet someone is spending good money to analyse a situation of lack of demand....Technocrats!

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