Bad news slides past during the silly season

As someone who tries to follow local events, I was dismayed to read the Wellington ratepayers bail out tourist attractions article in today’s DomPost, especially when the WCC was being warned this time last year it had to start living within its means. I had to laugh when it mentioned that the St. James Theatre “is so broke it tends to avoid risky shows” – that would also apply to Downstage and Circa and… pretty much all local theatre except for BATS.

So, the Council is going to be in hock by $287 million by the end of the year. This is extraordinary, and shows either criminal mismanagement or a complete disconnect from reality. Or, maybe a bit of both. Wellington’s main problem is that it thinks the rest of the country is just like it, and the Council’s main problem is that it seems to think the rest of Wellington is like Oriental Parade, a conspicuous receiver of Council largesse. Obviously something needs to change, and I don’t mean putting up the rates. It’s an election year, you know.

Switching to central government, is anyone else living in dread of GST being raised? Looking at New Zealand history, the normal reaction to powerful groups being deprived is to make up for it by squeezing less powerful groups. Or, in this case, a group which will grumble a lot but suck it up because National still enjoys record popularity despite dodging every hard long-term decision demanding its attention. Dairy prices are going up in a fortnight, by the way.

These really are the kind of hard questions which should be asked by Scoop, but for some reason their recent summer updates consist of Holiday Tales, the most asinine and pointless blog entries I’ve ever read on a national news website.


4 Responses to “Bad news slides past during the silly season”

  1. is so broke it tends to avoid risky shows

    … which is the slippery slope to ruin. All that does is preserve the ever-diminishing noncommital it’s-Saturday-what-shall-we-see remnant of the old core and thus fails utterly to attract new customers. This is what always happens when you put bean counters in charge and the sad/amusing thing is, the resulting failure is always such a surprise to benighted idiots.

  2. It doesn’t help if you’re competing with TV, DVDs, cinemas and the internet as well!

  3. The Saint James is the only big show theatre in Wellington, so it also doesn’t have much stage space to be risky when it’s bringing in Stomp, Slava’s Snow Show, the RNZ Ballet, as well as a bunch of modern opera’s that are actually quite interesting e.g. the Cunning Little Vixen. Also, it’s the only venue goldilocks enough for international comedians like Steve Coogan, Al Murray, Bill Bailey Dylan Moran et al to jump into.

    Don’t get me wrong, they show an amount of pap (which theatre doesn’t), but many of their shows have artistic merit and couldn’t fit in any other Wellington venue.

    Watching how Downstage is going after having funding stripped has been interesting as well. There have been some interesting things there, like Adagio Adam Page and Dj Sammy and the Forest of Dreams, but is it actually enough?

  4. At least Downstage’s situation is benefitting BATS. It’s useful to have a professional next step, even if they’ve just been restaging proven BATS productions whose audience may already be played out.

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