Event centre doing it tough

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Roger Farr has once again reported a “rollercoaster” six months at the Ashburton Event Centre, driven by covid restrictions and uncertainty.

He told Ashburton District councillors at a six monthly reporting meeting that income over the period had been decimated.

“The next six months will be tough and the calendar is not looking pretty,” he said.

While uncertainty continued within the industry, the venue remained positive in planning for the future.

A decision has been made to push on with the upgrade of technical and venue facilities.

“Evaluation and planning for the much-needed upgrade provides a focus for staff and management and will ensure the venue remains a hub for quality entertainment,” Mr Farr said.

He said staff were down to four days a week under the Red light setting and the focus going forward was on hosting more local events.

The July to December 2021 period included a two-week lockdown in August and a total of 52 cancellations.

The days use in the main auditorium at the event centre for the July to December in 2019 was 96, in 2020 it was 36 and in 2021 it was 34.

Mr Farr said a huge disappointment in recent months had been the cancellation of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Some 1886 tickets had been sold for the local production, with three quarters of those now refunded.

“It’s been humbling with the refunds that close to $7000 has been donated to the event centre by ticket holders.”

Mr Farr said an application made to the Arts and Culture Events Support Scheme to underwrite Jesus Christ Superstar had been successful.

While many events were cancelled in the six month reporting period, the event centre did host the Ashburton College school ball, two cultural community events and Mid Canterbury Children’s Theatre show The Little Mermaid. The year finished with the very successful Christmas show All I Want for Christmas.

The event centre is asking $310,814 from council in its draft budget for 2022/23, slightly up on last year.

-By Mick Jensen