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Arts Centre calling for public support

Brie-Ellen Harding
Arts Centre Brie Ellen Harding 29324jpg
The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora  Brie-Ellen Harding /NZBS

The Arts Centre Trust is calling for Cantabrians' support after the Christchurch City Council proposed to cut its funding.

The Arts Centre Trust Te Matatiki Toi Ora is asking Cantabrians to get behind saving the Arts Centre, after the Christchurch City Council proposed to cut its funding, putting the trust in danger.

The Arts Centre is an independent charitable trust and for the first time, the council has excluded funding for the Arts Centre in its draft 10-year budget, released last month. Annually for the past three years, the council has included $1.83 million in its budget, so tenants were sent into shock with the news.

The Arts Centre is asking the council to absorb the annual insurance bill into its own group insurance scheme, rebate rates, and cover some ongoing operational costs such as heritage maintenance which adds up to approximately $1.8 million.

“I’m a little bit astounded [by the news],” said Paul Keen, who has a temporary lease on the Pumanawa Gallery.

With this proposed cut of funding, the trust has said it would have no option but to head into insolvency and wind up once the current council funding runs out at the end of June. The trust is now calling for Cantabrians to make submissions to the council. They believe this will be an efficient way of letting the council know how much the Arts Centre means to Christchurch.

Arts Centre Director Philip Aldridge said it was a very successful community centre.

"It’s really significant for the character of Christchurch.”

Submissions encouraging saving the Arts Centre are welcomed on the council website and an ipad outside Rutherford’s Den in the Clock Tower is available to use if people are unable to do this from home. 

As a result of the Arts Centre being owned by a citizens’ trust and governed by an Act of Parliament, the High Court is likely to decide who gets the assets if it’s to head into insolvency. Philip Aldridge said the Christchurch City Council would be left bearing the costs of running the Arts Centre. The trust suggests these costs are likely to fall on the ratepayer as they rely on funding through sponsorship, donations, and volunteer hours which the council will not get.

A public rally has been organised at the Arts Centre on April 16 at 5.30pm. The trust encourages locals to attend and voice their support in saving the Arts Centre on social media.