Media release – Wellington City Council
Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, the Wellington City Council’s Arts and Culture Portfolio Holder, says he shares the sadness many Wellingtonians will feel about the announcement that Downstage is to close.
Cr Ahipene-Mercer says Downstage has put in heroic efforts in recent years to keep operating and has been an exemplar in terms of its creative output.
“Downstage has had a great and storied history over the past five decades. It has delighted generations of Wellington theatre-goers and has launched many careers. However all artistic endeavour has a life cycle.”
Cr Ahipene-Mercer says the City Council will work to encourage and assist any theatrical ventures that rise in Downstage’s place. “We need to be positive about what that could be – while at the same time recognising the personal hurt that will be felt by the founders, staff, supporters and fans of Downstage.”
“One of the great things about art and culture is you never know what will emerge.”
“The Council supports the arts but of course we don’t – and won’t – determine the form that artistic expression takes. That’s up to the arts community.”
Media statement from John Morrison
Today’s announcement of the impending closure of Downstage Theatre is a sad reflection on Wellington’s economy says Mayoral candidate John Morrison.
“It’s sad to see the closure of this 50 year old theatre; it’s a real blow to Wellington’s art and culture scene and to our entertainment diversity. Our stagnating economy means people have less income to spend on arts, culture and entertainment, and Downstage Theatre’s waning annual figures strongly reflect this.”
Morrison says the decision was not brought to councillors’ attention and there were no discussions on how this could have been prevented.
“Wellington needs strong leadership, a boost to economy and better job opportunities to ensure growth and support of our arts, culture and entertainment, not the reverse.”