Campaign for Lyttelton amphitheatre

Campaign to build amphitheatre in Lyttelton

Last updated 12:30 09/06/2014
Brian Rick
Daniel Tobin/Fairfax NZ

MAN WITH VISION: Brian Rick describes the site in Lyttelton, on the corner of London and Oxford streets, where he hopes to build an open-air amphitheatre.

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Brian Rick dreams of staging a Shakespeare festival at an open-air amphitheatre he is establishing in an empty section in central Lyttelton.

"That's my passion," the American said.

By yesterday, Rick and colleagues had gathered more than $2000 on fundraising website PledgeMe to cover the cost of a resource consent application.

They hope for an opening night gig in November.

"Even if it's not all in place then, we'll still have a venue," he said.

The amphitheatre will seat several hundred people on a grassy slope. The round stage will be flanked by two shipping containers stood on their ends. Plans show a strong nautical theme in the fitout.

Rick foresaw the busker and body festivals staging events at the amphitheatre as well as outdoor cinema, gigs and markets.

"We hope to get two full summers on the site," he said. "We see it as a proving ground for a permanent facility in Lyttelton down the track."

It would "highlight what Lyttelton does best - the arts".

The site, in the southwest corner of London and Oxford streets, was home to a pharmacy and post shop, a fish and chip shop, a book store and the Empire Hotel immediately before the quakes. The buildings have been demolished and Life in Vacant Spaces organised a two-year lease with the owner.

Rick estimated phase one - landscaping and making the site usable as green space - would cost about $50,000.

A complete amphitheatre would cost another $150,000.

Organisers have been seeking funds from Lyttelton businesses, city council and government agencies. There may be another public appeal for funds.

Rick is manager director of Harbour Co-op, an organic grocery in Lyttelton, and a community development worker at the Project Lyttelton community group.

Originally from Wisconsin, he has lived in New Zealand for 12 years and the harbour area for seven.

He also freelances in theatre and television lighting as well as occasional acting.

Open Source is a weekly series featuring innovative, interesting ideas emerging within the city and region. If you want to share an idea, email

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