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Statement on the closure of Downstage Theatre


17 September 2013

Creative New Zealand statement on the closure of Downstage Theatre

Creative New Zealand is saddened at the news that Downstage Theatre Trust will be closing its doors this weekend.

“Downstage has been an important part of Wellington’s theatre scene for 50 years and provided Wellington audiences with many memorable theatrical experiences,” said Creative New Zealand’s Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright. “Creative New Zealand has provided ongoing funding and support for the theatre for much of that time.’’

However, Downstage has struggled to meet audience and financial targets in recent years. In its latest application for ongoing funding under Creative New Zealand’s Toi Uru Kahikatea (Arts Development) investment programme, Downstage was unable to demonstrate to the Arts Board that it had a compelling plan to improve its performance, he said.

As a result, Downstage’s application was declined. “The Arts Board agreed that it could not continue to fund Downstage when there were other art organisations making stronger, more compelling cases for funding,” Mr Wainwright said.

“Downstage has been a significant part of the theatre ecology and this was a decision we took very seriously.”

The balance of Downstage’s 2013 funding under the Toi Uru Kahikatea programme will be paid out as a lump sum to assist Downstage to meet its commitments, Mr Wainwright said.

Creative New Zealand will continue to invest across a range of Wellington theatre organisations and practitioners. In 2014, one-off funding will be made available to support new initiatives that may emerge from the Wellington theatre community.

“Creative New Zealand remains committed to supporting Wellington’s vibrant and diverse theatre scene,” Mr Wainwright said.

Since 2009, Creative New Zealand has invested more than $13 million in Wellington theatre through its multi-year investment programmes and arts grants.


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