Music group raises ‘lack of connection’

David Bennett submits on the need for music venues in the city early this month. PHOTO: GREGOR...
David Bennett submits on the need for music venues in the city early this month. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A group advocating for more opportunities for live music in Dunedin say the fact the stadium’s boss now spends much of his time in Australia speaks to the "disconnect" of the organisation.

A spokesman for Save Dunedin Live Music and another industry figure said Dunedin Venues Management Ltd’s (DVML) chief executive Terry Davies’ split arrangement between Dunedin and Australia was a sign of the company being removed from the grassroots.

But the council said Mr Davies’ "flexible arrangement" was beneficial to the company and city.

A council spokesman confirmed Mr Davies has been dividing his time between Australia and Dunedin.

The spokesman said this arrangement was "not new".

"Terry Davies is working flexibly, spending time in both Dunedin and Australia, but his duties as chief executive of Dunedin Venues have not changed and there is no extra cost to ratepayers.

"This approach works well for all concerned as it allows Mr Davies to meet directly with music promoters and other key industry contacts based in Australia, helping secure content that benefits Ōtepoti Dunedin."

The spokesman did not say how long the arrangement had been going on, or offer detail on the division of time between Australia and Dunedin.

Save Dunedin Live Music spokesman David Bennett said it reflected the greater disconnect DVML, which runs the Dunedin Town Hall and Forsyth Barr Stadium, had with the music community.

"It speaks to a lack of drive and connection to what’s happening on the ground.

"A lot of our concern with DVML is more based around how access to the venues has been granted to the community."

Mr Bennett said the group had worked closely with the council on the live music action plan, which examines increasing rehearsal spaces and the prospect of a new mid-size venue.

"A lot of the questions around the future of a new music venue are intrinsic to broader discussions about how live music can be harnessed in Dunedin."

At last week’s council annual plan hearings, the Dunedin Choral Society and Dunedin Symphony Orchestra asked for DVML to give them more reasonable treatment because they were local organisations.

But the council spokesman said there was "no disconnect".

"When it comes to fostering local talent and access to venues, this is the focus of the council’s work in collaboration with the live music sector on the Ōtepoti live music action plan, which aims to support a strong and vibrant live music scene."

Community groups also had access to the council’s community access grant scheme, which offers subsidised venue rental at Forsyth Barr Stadium and the Town Hall/Dunedin Centre, he said.

"We're extremely happy with all our fantastic staff at Dunedin Venues and the result they're delivering for our city."

He pointed to the success of the recent Pink concert, which drew a crowd of 37,000 and brought in an estimated $16.6 million of economic benefit for the city.

Mr Davies had also helped to bring several other major international acts to Dunedin during his time overseeing the stadium, including Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, and Fleetwood Mac.