Mayor to Honour Arts Centre Founders

25 August 2009

Jenny and Jim Stevenson, founders of Wellington Performing Arts Centre, are to be honoured by Mayor Kerry Prendergast tomorrow (Wednesday 26 August).

The Stevensons, who saw the centre they founded in a couple rooms above a commercial building in Newtown grow into a city centre institution which trained thousands of talented students, are to receive an Absolutely Positive Wellingtonian award.

Mayor Prendergast said: "For more than 21 years Wellington Performing Arts Centre has helped transform the lives of students, many of whom have gone on to build successful careers in the arts in New Zealand and abroad.

"The Centre has run NZQA-accredited courses and community courses. It has given countless Wellingtonians the chance to explore their talents, prepare for careers or just have a great time.

"This is down to the drive and determination of Jenny and Jim to create something special for this city. They are without doubt Absolutely Positive Wellingtonians."

Jenny Stevenson, a former dancer and choreographer, founded the Centre in King Street, Newtown, in 1987 with husband Jim's active support. As the centre grew they moved it to bigger premises in Allen Street, off Courtenay Place, then Vivian Street.

As well as teaching, the Centre has also launched touring productions, supported the Fringe Festival and Wellington City Council's Dance Your Socks Off events and helped individual Wellington artists in many ways.

The Centre came under the control of Whitireia Community Polytechnic in December and is continuing the work of the previous two decades.

The Absolutely Positive Wellingtonian award will be presented at the beginning of the Wellington City Council meeting in the Council Chamber at 5.30pm tomorrow.

Absolutely Positive Wellingtonian awards are presented in recognition of long service to the city across a range of fields. Recent recipients include arts benefactors Denis and Verna Adam and leading art dealer Peter McLeavey, who has supported the work of many of New Zealand's top artists.

For further information, please contact:
Stephen Matthews
Communications Advisor, Office of the Mayor
Phone: (04) 801 3119; mobile: 021 227 8517
E-mail: stephen.matthews@wcc.govt.nz