Outside-the-box theatre funding idea approved

The Mayfair Theatre in King Edward St, South Dunedin. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The Mayfair Theatre in King Edward St, South Dunedin. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The Mayfair Theatre is to receive thousands of dollars in Dunedin City Council funding towards its wage bill, despite concerns about whether it is eligible to access the funds.

At a meeting of the council’s grants subcommittee yesterday, $8805.79 was approved to be paid to the South Dunedin theatre from the professional theatre fund to help pay the wages of a part-time theatre manager.

The fund was designed to support the development of theatrical works in Dunedin.

Council community development and events manager Joy Lanini told the committee the theatre normally received about $10,000 in funding from the city services and city projects grants pool, but had missed out earlier this year after missing the deadline to apply.

However, there was money remaining in the professional theatre fund that would have been returned to the council had it not been allocated in this funding round.

‘‘It would be in the spirit of supporting professional theatre in Dunedin that any remaining funds be allocated to the Mayfair.’’

Cr Steve Walker said that approaching Christmas he did not want to appear like the Grinch, but was uncomfortable with the precedent that might be set by going outside the policies and procedures laid down for the fund.

‘‘I feel really uncomfortable ... that we’re making a decision based on sentiment and emotion rather than the strict criteria thankfully under which we work.’’

Cr Sophie Barker said the Mayfair was a valuable community asset, and the proposal met the spirit of the criteria, if not the detail.

‘‘We do have a little bit of money left over in this fund and I think one of the best uses to do with this is to support professional theatre.’’

The committee voted to grant the funds, Cr Walker and Creative New Zealand representative Don Hunter voting against it.

Overall, there was $95,000 of funding allocated from the professional theatre grants pool that was spread across seven recipients.

andrew.marshall@odt.co.nz

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