Creative NZ to invest $3m for 600-seat Waterfront Theatre in Wynyard Quarter

Press Release – Creative New Zealand
Creative New Zealand is joining other investors to realise a new centre for the performing arts in central Auckland by agreeing to invest $3 million over two years in The Waterfront Theatre Project.

The project centres on a 600-seat theatre development in the Wynyard Quarter, Auckland’s business and entertainment district. The venue will be adjacent to and integrate with the new ASB head office complex, owned and developed by Kiwi Income Property Trust, and become the permanent home of Auckland Theatre Company.

An exceptional opportunity

“It is very unusual for Creative New Zealand to invest in a capital project but we see this as an exceptional opportunity to help fill a large gap in Auckland’s arts infrastructure,” says Arts Council Chair Alastair Carruthers.

“It would be considerably more expensive to create a similar integrated venue without the sizeable support being provided by ASB, Auckland Council, ASB Community Trust and other partners. Hopefully our commitment will encourage others to step forward too.”

A demonstrated need

A mid-sized venue for performing arts companies has been identified by Auckland Council as the single highest priority for the performing arts in Auckland. The Waterfront Theatre Project includes a 600-seat theatre, designed specifically for drama and dance, access to a 200-seat auditorium within the ASB head office development, a shared courtyard and other facilities.

“There has been significant growth in the number and quality of theatre and dance organisations in Auckland but many companies, particularly in dance, are hampered by lack of mid-sized venues in which to perform,” Mr Carruthers said.

The project would allow the Auckland Theatre Company to reach larger audiences and have more control over programming. It would also allow a wider range of local and touring performing arts events to be seen by Auckland audiences than is currently possible.

One off grant

Creative New Zealand’s investment is made possible by one-off New Zealand Lottery Grants Board income.

Funds will be released once Auckland Theatre Company has secured the remaining investment required and the start of the project is confirmed. “We appreciate there is a way to go to reach the full amount but we are confident the Auckland Theatre Company will achieve its fundraising goal,” says Mr Carruthers.

Gordon Moller, Chair of Auckland Theatre Company says, “Creative New Zealand’s support is a tremendous boost to our fundraising campaign for this nationally significant project.”

“We have secured over 70% of the funds needed for the new theatre in less than two years, which shows just how excited people are about the idea of a theatre on Auckland’s waterfront, recognising the important role that arts and culture can play in the waterfront development.”

The investment will be administered by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage which has experience of investing in capital projects through its Regional Museums Policy for Capital Construction Projects.

Notes to editors
1) A report by Howarth HTL Professional Performing Arts Venue Study Needs Analysis to the Auckland Council in March 2011 found that a new 600-seat theatre in the central city is the highest and most urgent priority for the professional performing arts sector. ATC’s current performance base, the Maidment Theatre at Auckland University, has 440 seats. Q Theatre has 340-450 seats and SKYCITY Theatre with 700 seats, has withdrawn from the market for most professional performing arts product. The next sized venue is the ASB Auditorium with approximately 2000 seats.

2) The only previous Creative New Zealand investment in a capital project was in 2011 when it invested $500,000 in the Court Theatre’s new home in The Shed, Christchurch.

3) Creative New Zealand is funded by the Government through the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and by the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board.

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