YMCA Christchurch has been actively involved in community discussions about gaps that exist for a range of community groups across the arts, recreation, education and tourism sectors. A clear need has been identified to provide affordable, flexible, centrally located performance spaces.
After a spectacular SPECTRUM exhibit which saw nearly 100,000 visitors, the YMCA looked around for the next most responsible, transitional, use for their stadium building. “I wanted to ensure that a building in such a prime location was meeting a tangible community need, that would compliment and support other awesome arts initiatives in the central city” said Josie Ogden Schroeder, CEO.
The YMCA has engaged Adam Hayward, who has extensive experience and reputation in the arts sector both in NZ and internationally, to lead the project to ensure it is as fit for purpose as possible within the resources available.
The YMCA performance space (to be named via a social media campaign) will be located in the large exhibition space (pre-SPECTRUM this space housed the YMCA climbing wall). The Y is installing a sprung wooden floor, retractable/moveable tiered seating, lighting and sound, heating and drapes – which aim to enable the space to be very versatile.
It will be up and running by July 2016 and bookings are being taken now.
With a capacity of 300 and taking the form of a ‘black box’ in the truest sense of the word (totally flexible and reconfigurable between events), this exciting new addition to the performance venue landscape of the central city will be a real boost for the arts community.
“Whether you’re looking to stage a traditional ‘end on’ theatre show or something in the round, a catwalk set up or no seating at all the space will suitable for all the above and anything else artists can imagine. Complete with a lowerable grid the space will also be suitable for basic aerial rigging. We aim to provide a space to suit the needs of the arts not prescribe them.” Said Adam Hayward.
Central to the YMCA’s mission and purpose is the provision of relevant programmes and opportunities for young people to develop their skills and talents. “A barrier for many groups, particularly those with a younger demographic, is often funding. The Y will minimize barriers to utilise the space by making sure it is affordable, and working in partnership with user groups.” Said Ogden Schroeder.
With bookings and interest already in place from organisations like the Court Theatre, the Christchurch Arts Festival, The Buskers Festival, The Len Lye Foundation, Two Productions and Circotica the YMCA is excited about the possibilities this performance venue will provide for the city.