New theatre initiative takes centre stage

Published: Thu 17 Nov 2005 12:02 AM
17 November 2005
New theatre initiative takes centre stage
A new theatre development proposal received an extra boost today with the approval of an additional $1.6 million funding from Auckland City.
"This brings the total funding contribution from council to an impressive $4.6 million, cements our commitment and puts a stake in the ground for the success of this project", says chairperson of the Arts, Culture and Recreation Committee, Councillor Penny Sefuiva.
The proposal to develop a 350-seat flexiform theatre behind the Auckland City Town Hall is the brainchild of the New Theatre Initiative (NTI), an independent organisation who will manage the project.
"We are thrilled to be a major funder of this project," says Councillor Sefuiva. "This theatre will fill a much needed gap and fits well with council's strategic vision for an arts and culture precinct in this part of the city.
This project has been a long time in the planning and research. "It is based on international best practice and will provide an opportunity to enrich and grow the artistic and cultural life of Auckland.
"Not only will it provide a wonderful performance space for live theatre, dance and the performing arts, but it will provide an intimate, unique experience for audiences," says Councillor Sefuiva.
Development of the design and project planning involved a wide range of people from the creative sector and a recently formed foundation group will guide this project through further fund-raising drives.
Prior to approving the additional funding Auckland City required NTI to raise funds from other sources. This challenge has been met and the foundation group have successfully raised $1.5 million over the past year. An additional $6.4 million is still required to fully-fund the proposed new theatre.
"We have taken a prudent approach to this decision," says Councillor Sefuiva. "NTI have done the hard yards in terms of planning, and peer reviews indicate this is a sound and robust business proposal.
"This initiative is a high priority for the City and our partnership with NTI acknowledges its importance."
The new theatre's contribution to the central city arts precinct will be one of the major strategic benefits for the city. It will complement the Town Hall, Civic Theatre, Aotea Centre, and smaller venues like the Silo Theatre and the Classic Comedy Club to enhance the existing arts and culture hub.
Auckland City will also provide land and buildings for the development at no cost. "We are committed to assisting the NTI financially because we know the theatre will enhance economic prosperity and the development of community infrastructure," said Councillor Vern Walsh, chair of the Finance and Corporate Business Committee.
The new theatre will also make a significant economic contribution to the city.
A recent economic impact assessment of the NTI business plan has indicated that the new theatre will generate significant economic benefits for the city. The assessment report estimates that the new project will generate around $2 million a year in additional GDP (gross domestic product) and provide employment for the equivalent of 43 fulltime jobs.
Auckland City's recently published creative industries report Snapshot, identified a commitment to supporting and providing arts infrastructure, as a major and much needed focus.
"Support for the New Theatre Initiative fits well with this commitment," says Councillor Sefuiva. "It is developments like this which provide the building blocks for the industry to really develop and put Auckland performing arts centre stage."

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