October 21, 2011

Dave Burgess  
Dominion Post 21/10/2011  

Cash-strapped Downstage Theatre wants Wellington ratepayers to provide a $90,000 bailout so it can continue to operate. Wellington City Council will consider the funding request on Wednesday. If granted, it would allow New Zealand’s oldest professional theatre company to remain open until January – when $298,000 funding from Creative New Zealand falls due.

The council already provides Downstage with $33,000 a year. Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the council must be convinced that Downstage could financially stand on its own two feet before any extra funding was approved. “Downstage plays a critical role in the arts in Wellington… which means we have to look at this urgently,” she said.

Downstage’s chief executive and director, Hilary Beaton, said it was “disrespectful” to term the funding request a bailout. The theatre had trained generations of actors and had “greatly contributed to the cultural fabric of the city” which added weight to calls for extra council funding, she said. “I don’t see it as a bailout. I see it as an investment in the future and a recognition of the past.” [More]  

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