Actors’ unions around the world are donating vital funds to help relocate Christchurch’s Court Theatre to a former grain store in Addington, as part of a fundraising initiative led by NZ Actors’ Equity.
On Saturday, NZ Equity president Jennifer Ward-Lealand will present The Court Theatre with $37,000. The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (to which NZ Equity belongs) has donated $20,000, and has secured more than $10,000 from other actors’ unions, including; the Screen Actors Guild, Dansk Skuespillerforbund, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, and US Actors Equity.
“It is with great pleasure that the acting community will donate money to help the Court Theatre establish their new quarters,” said Ward-Lealand. “The closure of the theatre as a result of February’s earthquake was devastating for New Zealand’s performing arts community, as well as for Cantabrian audiences.”
The Court Theatre is the country’s longest-running theatre. From 1976 until earthquake of 22 February, the theatre was housed in the historic Christchurch Arts Centre. The centre suffered extensive damage and it is estimated to be several years before it will be usable again. The Court’s relocation to Addington will likely cost $4.6 million.
“As Christchurch’s only professional theatre company, the Court has been a home to performers, crew and creative for four decades. We hope the donations pour in and the theatre is back up and running, and staging stellar live performance, once again,” said Ward-Lealand.
“Without actors, there is no theatre; there are no productions to present to our audiences and the support from our colleagues here in New Zealand and around the world is incredibly important to being able to realise The Court’s goal of opening in December,” said Court artistic director Ross Gumbley. “For actors from around the world to come to the aid of a theatre in absolute need, shows that the international theatre family is close knit and so supportive of each other. The Court Theatre is deeply grateful and moved by our fellow thespians’ generosity.”
NZ Equity raised The Court Theatre’s plight at the International Federation of Actors meeting earlier this year in Australia, and called on their sister unions for assistance.