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Councillors Attempt to Sabotage Waterfront Theatre Project

Councillors Attempt to Sabotage Visionary Waterfront Theatre Project

Auckland Theatre Company is dismayed that eight Citizens and Ratepayers and Independent Auckland Councillors plan to move amendments to jeopardise Auckland Council's stake in a new theatre on the waterfront.

The project is a private-public collaboration that delivers exceptional value-for-money for the community outcomes it will produce.

Last year an Auckland Council independent report identified a 600 seat drama theatre as the most urgent priority for this city's burgeoning arts sector. Auckland Council approved a contribution of $10million towards a new waterfront theatre as part of the region's Long-Term Plan, subject to Auckland Theatre Company meeting certain conditions by 2014.

At the last minute eight Citizens and Ratepayers and Independent Auckland Councillors have issued a media release of their intention to move amendments to undermine the project at the Strategy and Finance committee meeting on Wednesday.

Auckland Theatre Company considers this action to be unfair and undemocratic. The Company has not been given a chance to report back on the very significant progress that has been made towards meeting the conditions set by council when it made its commitment, nor have councillors been given the opportunity to review the business case.

Considerable progress has already been made on the Waterfront Theatre project with detailed designs 90% complete, a comprehensive and viable business plan (independently assessed by Price Waterhouse Cooper) and $21 million of the $35 million needed already secured. The company receives donations daily from people who are enthusiastic about the theatre and the contribution it will make to the transformation of Auckland's waterfront.

"If these Councillors are succesful in their underhand attempt to pull Council's support for this project without first considering the facts, the millions of dollars that we have raised will simply be lost to Auckland," says Auckland Theatre Company General Manager, Lester McGrath.

"Performing arts companies contribute hugely to Auckland's desire to be one of the world's most liveable cities" says McGrath, "we are deeply concerned and troubled that the arts are once again being kicked about for cheap political points in an attempt by these councillors to appeal to parochial opponents of regional infrastructure investment."

ENDS

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