Arts Centre concedes lower funding needs amidst Council budget scrutiny

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
May 02, 2024 |

The Arts Centre management has conceded that its funding requirements for the next year are not as substantial as publicly advocated.

The Christchurch City Council had been allocating an average of $1.8 million annually for the past three years through its Long-Term Plan.

However, due to rising costs, the council intends to cut the centre’s funding.

The Arts Centre proposed that the Council absorb the annual insurance bill into its own group insurance scheme, costing $1.2 million, along with a rebate of rates totaling $205,000, and coverage for some ongoing operational costs amounting to $400,000.

“This adds up to approximately $1.8 million, which is the average amount the Council has paid over the past three years. It equates to $1 per month, or less, for the average household.”

The Arts Centre website stated “the trustees have resolved to start winding up.”

However, during a public meeting today, Christchurch City Councillor Sam MacDonald pressed Centre Chair Murray Dickison to substantiate these assertions.

MacDonald sought clarification on the precise funding needed for the upcoming year to avert insolvency proceedings.

Murray Dickison responded, “to ensure that the trust remains a going concern, which essentially means not putting the trust in any worse position than it is today, which essentially is a cash deficit of around $900,000.”

Arts Centre Director Philip Aldridge, whose salary is believed to be more than $200,000, said, “we’ve got footfall of 1 million visitors a year.”

The Arts Centre houses 70 organizations that employ hundreds of people and turn over tens of millions of dollars a year, he added.

“We’ve got a huge success story at The Arts Centre. It’s one you backed with a grant of 1.83 million every year three years ago. And all that’s changed as the people around this chamber. We haven’t changed beyond getting better and more vibrant. We’re bursting with activity. We’ve got happy tenants, and we’ve got an engaged and happy public.”

Christchurch City Councillor Kelly Barber requested more information about the Centre’s cash reserves.

Murray Dickison explained that the Centre had a cash reserves fund for a 35-year maintenance obligation for the hotel lease.

“Those reserves can be used to fund a shortfall in the short term, as long as we replace those funds in the long term because those maintenance obligations don’t go away.

The discounted cash flow was $4.4 million,” Dickison said.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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