March 20, 2024


Gretchen La Roche, a well-respected and seasoned arts executive, is returning to Christchurch to lead The Court Theatre as its new Executive Director.

“We were thrilled to receive a lot of interest across New Zealand for this role and we undertook a very robust recruitment process,” says Chair of The Court Theatre Board of Trustees, Steve Wakefield. 

“The Court Theatre has been so successful because of the many people who have supported us over our 50-year history. This includes the public that love coming to the Court, the many supporters, donors, sponsors, funders, and our Friends, and of course our talented team of artists and staff at the Court. 

“It was important to us to find a new leader who understands the Court, its history, its place, and its people and, most importantly, its potential. We are thrilled that Gretchen has been appointed. 

“Gretchen’s application stood out due to her extensive arts management experience and her very impressive career in the arts. She is currently Senior Manager, Arts Development Services with Creative New Zealand and through that role, and her earlier time working at the Court as a Sponsorship Liaison Coordinator, she knows The Court Theatre very well. 

“Gretchen has a deep knowledge of both the local and national arts landscape with established strong connections to key stakeholders throughout the country. She has been actively involved in fundraising and networking with foundations and donors and has experience establishing partnerships between arts organisations and iwi. 

“The Court Theatre is at a pivotal time in its 50-year history, moving back into the city to a world-class purpose-built theatre in 2025. Gretchen has demonstrated experience in rebuilding organisations and developing a strong culture and collective vision. As Chief Executive of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Gretchen led the team as they moved back into the Christchurch Town Hall,” says Steve Wakefield

For Gretchen, coming home to The Court Theatre was an easy decision. 

“With The Court Theatre about to achieve its long-held vision for a purpose-built theatre in the heart of the city, the opportunities afforded by this exceptional facility are significant. Not only for the organisation itself, but for the communities of Christchurch, including the wider theatre sector locally and nationally,” says Gretchen.

“I have been an enthusiastic audience member of The Court, at both the Arts Centre and The Shed, and have long admired the vision, tenacity, and courage of the company. I would like to acknowledge the hard mahi from many over the years that has enabled The Court to reach this exciting time in its history. 

“Moving back to the city is a watershed moment for The Court and to be able to play a part in helping shape its vision for the future is something that I am immensely proud to be a part of.

“I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to lead and be a champion for the organisation,” says Gretchen. 

The Court Theatre is New Zealand’s largest theatre company. It is a diverse and dynamic company of permanent staff plus hundreds of artists and artisans who produce 15-20 productions each year. 

More than 100,000 ticket buyers enter The Court each year to enjoy a varied offering of theatrical works, most of which are created and produced on-site. 

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