QTheatre cel­e­brates five years of arts

Central Leader - - MILESTONES - HUGH COLLINS

Q The­atre has blown out its birthday can­dles, cel­e­brat­ing five years in Auck­land.

First opened on Septem­ber 8, 2011, the multi-the­atre venue at 305 Queen St has be­come a sta­ple and cen­tral fea­ture of the Auck­land arts com­mu­nity.

With 577 per­for­mances last year Q saw 89,000 au­di­ence mem­bers through its doors -a 7500 jump from the pre­vi­ous year.

It con­sists of three the­atres - the main Ran­gatira, the smaller and in­ti­mate Loft, and the un­der­ground workspace Vault.

Mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Candice de Vil­liers says plans for the not-for­profit com­pany were born as far back as 1996 when a the­atre on the water­front was shut down to make way for the Amer­ica’s Cup Vil­lage.

‘‘So when that hap­pened the in­de­pen­dent the­atre com­mu­nity looked at the venues around and re­alised there wasn’t a pur­pose­built space specif­i­cally for them,’’ she says. ’’A mid-sized the­atre that wasn’t owned by coun­cil, that was in­de­pen­dently owned and was specif­i­cally for the per­form­ing arts and not a mul­ti­pur­pose venue for other things.’’

A group of well-re­spected per­form­ing arts prac­ti­tion­ers came to­gether and formed an ini­tia­tive to be­gin lob­by­ing to find a site, funds and re­quired coun­cil per­mis­sion. It took more than a decade of lob­by­ing and fundrais­ing with a group from the arts com­mu­nity com­mit­ted to mak­ing it hap­pen for no mon­e­tary re­turn, de Vil­liers says.

‘‘It’s that un­re­lent­ing ded­i­ca­tion to mak­ing it hap­pen.’’

‘‘There were lots of mo­ments where things could go ei­ther way… there were re­ally im­por­tant coun­cil meet­ings where pretty much the en­tire the­atre com­mu­nity turned up to and said ‘no this re­ally re­ally has to hap­pen’.’’

Like any busi­ness or new busi­ness ven­ture, the first five years were crit­i­cal, she says. ’’There can be a bit of hit-and-miss, you don’t want things to go wrong … if you haven’t got a lot of re­serves things can fall and you might not still be here.

‘‘So the fact Q has made it to five years is pretty im­pres­sive.’’

This year alone the the­atre has seen 63 dif­fer­ent arts com­pa­nies work within the spa­ces. Chief ex­ec­u­tive James Wil­son says the the­atre is now at the heart of the arts precinct in Auck­land and acts as a hub of cre­ativ­ity and col­lab­o­ra­tion.

HUGH COLLINS / FAIRFAX NZ

Q The­atre mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Candice de Vil­liers.

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