People power funds Basement Theatre facelift

BRIDGET JONES
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2012

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Auckland theatre The Basement is planning a facelift after receiving more than $20,000 in donations from around the country.

The theatre, which sits on the edge of Myers Park, is currently hosting Megachristmas with Kim Dotcom.  

The show is the fourth annual fundraising show for the venue, with money raised from ticket sales to be combined with $22,000 raised on crowdsourcing website Pledge Me to soundproof the theatre and refurbish the foyer and bar.

Previously, money raised from the end of year show has been used to buy air-conditioning, install toilets and showers for the actors and re-do the public toilets.

The Basement's general manager Charlie McDermott said it was all part of helping the theatre meet the expectations of cast, crew and the public.

"And the other half of the plan is the foyer. It's been long neglected - it's a bit of a turd, but it does have absolute character. What we are hoping to do is expose the brick, bring that character out more and keep that underground feel, just perhaps not as grimy."

McDermott said theatre-lovers were keen to give money to the cause because "people like to help battlers".

He said 2012 had been a big year for The Basement - not only had they raised more cash than ever, but they also secured Creative NZ funding that will allow them to become a risk-share venue from next year.

At the moment, performers can pay a flat fee to hire the venue, but McDermott said the funding means the theatre can subside hire costs - instead of performers paying up to $300 a night to use the space, the venue will take 20 per cent of a shows box office.

"So if no one comes, the performers don't pay any money ... It's an internationally proven model, it's been [Wellington's] Bats Theatre model for 20-plus years, and it's kind of the natural conclusion."

The venue already has more than 150 shows booked in for next year, including the comedy festival and Auckland Fringe Festival shows.

The funding changes also mean a shake up for the venue's bar, which once subsidised the running of the theatre.

McDermott is promising better choices, with more range and beer on tap.

"We are all actors here and what do actors want? Cheap drinks. How do you get cheap drinks? You get a keg."

The renovations are expected to get underway early next year.

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- Auckland Now

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