Venues Merger

5 July 2010

The Council is considering creating an umbrella organisation - a new Council-controlled trading organisation - to manage six of the city's major arts and conference venues.

These NZSO violinists regularly perform at the Town Hall

These NZSO violinists regularly perform at the Town Hall

The new organisation would manage the St James Theatre, Opera House, Town Hall, Michael Fowler Centre, TSB Bank Arena and Shed 6.

Before making a final decision in September, we want to explain why we think this is a good idea and give you an opportunity to let us know what you think. Consultation starts tomorrow (06.07.10) and submissions are required by 5.00pm on Monday 9 August.

At the moment, promoters considering these venues have to approach two organisations - the St James Theatre Charitable Trust and the Wellington Convention Centre - to check out what's available.

The Wellington Convention Centre, a Council business unit, owns and manages the Town Hall and Michael Fowler Centre and also manages the TSB Arena and Shed 6 for Wellington Waterfront Ltd. The St James Charitable Trust, one of the Council's existing Council-controlled trading organisations (CCTOs) manages the St James Theatre and the Opera House.

We want to simplify things, and having considered several options believe that the best one is to have a single organisation managing all six venues. This is similar to what Auckland and Christchurch already do.

In terms of attracting events, shows and conferences to the city, we think this is a better and more cost-effective way to help ensure Wellington remains a vibrant, internationally competitive and affordable city.

The Council's City Services Director Neville Brown says the main reasons for the proposed change are the benefits to be gained from combined marketing and sales, consistent event management processes and having a single point of contact for all Council venues.

"A one-stop shop would make things simpler for hirers, which is likely to mean the city gets more shows and conferences," he says.

"We expect the venues would be used more, increasing the income we can earn from them and making it easier to fund the upgrade and maintenance of facilities and buildings.

"The proposed new trading organisation would benefit from more coordinated and targeted marketing, shared support services and have greater buying power for negotiating contracts for things like food, beverages and cleaning, which would reduce costs."

The organisation would have a board of directors appointed and the ability to attract directors with the required commercial acumen, experience and connections required to oversee the operation. We also expect the new CCTO would be better able to access alternative funding - like sponsorship for example.

If the Council decides in September to proceed with this proposal, the new CCTO is likely to be established and managing the facilities by early 2011.

A transition group would be set up to manage the change and the existing organisations would continue to manage the facilities in the meantime. It would be business as usual for theatre-goers and community groups would still be able to apply to use facilities at reduced rates as they do now.

Anyone interested in finding out more should check the Public Input section of this website, pick up a brochure or statement of proposal with a submission form from city libraries, the City Service Centre, St James Theatre or Michael Fowler Centre or phone (04) 499 4444. Submissions can be made online.