Council still mindful of need for theatre support


Supporting the continuation and development of local theatre has been top of mind for Dunedin City Council arts adviser Cara Paterson since the closure of the Fortune Theatre in May last year.

“The loss of the Fortune did leave a void, both in performance and infrastructure,” Ms Paterson said.

However, the latest arts funding round had revealed a strong mixture of theatre development and presentation, she said.

“This is very good to see, as we want to maintain funding models for practitioners to develop and produce work.”

Another major focus has been working alongside the team from international arts consultancy Charcoalblue on the $300,000 Dunedin Performing Arts Feasibility study, jointly funded by the council and Creative New Zealand.

The broad consultation of phase 1 is now complete and a report will be presented to city councillors next week.

From there, Charcoalblue will move into phase 2 – the development of a “consensus vision”.

“Charcoalblue have said that the city is an interesting mix of amateur and professional practitioners, and have found an amazing willingness for people to work together,” Ms Paterson said.

The study had also signalled the need for a flexible 300 to 500-seat theatre-performance space that was highly visible to the wider community.

An issue of concern for Ms Paterson is the pressure on venues in the city.

“We need a short-term solution [while the study continues], and in the longer term we can, hopefully, develop a new space.

“The equation also must include accessibility for companies, as well as sustainability and economic viability.”