Keep Calm and Stick to the plan

In response to the Waikato Times‘ “front page news” today (4 July).

http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/arts/81633227/founders-theatre-debate-university-of-waikato-suggests-its-campus

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We’re all guilty of making plans and not seeing them through at some point.  We buy new notebooks – pens, and with the best of intentions brainstorm, do timelines, action points and then… to various degrees trod along until we reach a hurdle, or run out of steam.

Giving credibility to the idea of a rebuild of the Founders theatre at the University would be a sign of our Council veering off course and would make a joke out of the work done so far in cementing meaningful gains in our central city. I’d rather we didn’t put too much credence into the University of Waikato’s pitch, but felt the need to put my two cents worth in anyway.

The Council has repeatedly insisted and assured us that they are responding to the city’s need for a vibrant central city.  They have at expense created “coffee table books” showing us what it will look like “one day” in an effort to show us that they have a plan.   So, if the Founders theatre is to be rebuilt it is imperative that they put their money where there mouth is and build it in the central city – in the area that they have tagged as the “arts or cultural precinct”.  If they don’t do that, what is the point of all of these plans?  To ignore the direction taken so far would make all the good work the incumbent council has done a waste of time and ratepayer money.

There will always be people with different ideas, viewpoints and agendas, but the Council has a responsibility to bring these views together – put a plan in place and stick to it for the greater good.  Investing in arts infrastructure at the University is not on their plan – it is not in the best interests of the central city, wider community or visitors.  One needs only to think about the business that could follow from a theatre being in the central city. Where are you expecting patrons to go to dinner before or after seeing a performance at the University?  Would having a theatre at the University help to build a stronger arts community? I don’t think so.

We’ll find out soon what the public want to happen with the Founders theatre, submissions closed last week.  If the decision is to demolish… so be it.  If it is to refurbish… so be it.  But, if it is to rebuild we must make sure that the investment will be worthwhile – and be able to create a flow on effect to the rest of the community.  It must be in the central city.  We must stay focused.

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