Performing under threat

H-J Kilkelly
H-J Kilkelly
Prospect Park Productions producer H-J Kilkelly is frustrated and worried for the future of theatre in Dunedin after the latest Covid-19 outbreak.

The Dunedin-based producers of professional theatre and podcasts, operated by Kilkelly and dramaturg Emily Duncan, had ‘‘really robust’’ Covid-19 strategies in place, but these no longer apply under Delta Alert Level 2.

‘‘Our Otepoti Theatre Lab was close to completion, so we had to switch the final stage to online,’’ Kilkelly said.

While public readings of the new works by Amy Wright, Jessica Latton and Martin Swann are planned for October 3-4, at Petridish, uncertainty surrounds later workshops and events.

‘‘This impacts on our ability to deliver on our funding requirements, and realistically we have lost the ability to plan more than a month or two ahead,’’ she said.

Funding streams for the arts were very difficult to access locally, and it was very concerning that there were no Otago recipients in the latest Creative NZ funding round.

The funding difficulties meant that organisations became reluctant to take on more work.

‘‘The arts sector has long been under-resourced, and the Covid-19 pandemic has made it so much worse,’’ Kilkelly said.

‘‘Artists and organisations have lost space hire, ticket sales, and contract work — some for the rest of the year.

‘‘That’s heartbreaking for them, and certainly is not sustainable — urgent investment in the arts is needed.’’

Locally, Dunedin’s ongoing lack of venues and the length of the council’s planning and consultation process were another challenge for artists.

‘‘The council has tabled $17million towards a performing arts centre, but by the time it actually goes ahead, there may not be artists left to use it,’’ she said.

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