Base­ment has plan

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

A new fund­ing ini­tia­tive is breath­ing fresh life into The Base­ment the­atre.

This plan re­volves around a new era and has fi­nally reached ‘‘point zero’’ thanks to a new ‘‘risk shar­ing’’ model, Cre­ative NZ fund­ing and no longer hav­ing to pay rent, gen­eral man­ager Char­lie Mc­Der­mott says.

Artists won’t pay up to $300 per night to hire the venue from Fe­bru­ary next year, whether or not they sell any tick­ets.

In­stead they will just pay for 20 per cent of each ticket sold.

The Mt Al­bert ac­tor and pro­ducer says the proven model, the same as Welling­ton’s renowned Bats The­atre, will al­low the team to be­come more hands-on with men­tor­ing artists and co-pro­duc­ing work while still con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide a plat­form for emerg­ing artists.

‘‘I heard a quote once that in­no­va­tion is hurtling your­self at fail­ure and miss­ing – I like that. You’ve got to try some­thing,’’ Mr Mc­Der­mott says.

Ticket prices for pa­trons will be capped at $15 for up­stairs shows and $25 for down­stairs.

‘‘Bang for your buck is some­thing that The Base­ment sub­text has al­ways been about.

‘‘We’ve al­ways done a lot on very lit­tle, so now we’ve got a lit­tle we can do a lot,’’ he says.

‘‘We can feel so iso­lated in New Zealand.

‘‘We’re small, we should be stream­lined, we should be in­no­va­tive, we should be look­ing out­side of the box at ways to work, and at The Base­ment we’ve al­ways been forced to do that.’’

Mr Mc­Der­mott es­ti­mates that next year the the­atre will be of­fer­ing 158 shows com­pared with the 90-some­thing shows put on in 2011.

It’s a big leap but one The Base­ment is more than ca­pa­ble of tak­ing on, he says.

‘‘It’s mas­sive, it re­ally is and it’s tes­ta­ment to the fact that there’s a lot of de­mand out there and there’s a lot of good stuff go­ing on.’’

The Base­ment’s old brick coun­cil build­ing tucked away in a Lower Grey’s Ave car park has been ex­ten­sively de­vel­oped since the the­atre ap­peared on the in­de­pen­dent scene in 2008.

But the lat­est up­grades, in­clud­ing an over­haul of the bar and plans for an art gallery, won’t change its un­der- ground feel, pro­gramme man­ager So­phie Hen­der­son says.

‘‘It will al­ways be about emerg­ing artists,’’ Ms Hen­der­son says.

‘‘It’s ex­cit­ing not just for The Base­ment but for the whole the­atre community be­cause from next year more starv­ing artists will be able to show their work.’’

The world is their oys­ter, Mr Mc­Der­mott says.

‘‘In five years’ time that area will be a real hub of al­ter­na­tive and un­der­ground arts. It will be re­spected as a venue as the place to be – Aus­trala­sia’s place for emerg­ing tal­ent. And that’s an achiev­able goal.’’


Scene set­ting: The Base­ment’s gen­eral man­ager Char­lie Mc­Der­mott and Short­land Street’s Beth Allen are pre­par­ing for the the­atre’s an­nual end-of-year fes­tive show Mega Christ­mas.

Go to auck­land­c­ity har­ and click on Lat­est Edition to see a video of the team’s plans for a makeover for The Base­ment.

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