Cardboard project frontman loses job

CAROLINE KING AND JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 15/07/2013

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The frontman for Christchurch's ambitious cardboard cathedral has lost his job because of budget cuts, but is so passionate about the project he will carry on as a volunteer labourer.

Christ Church Cathedral marketing and development manager Craig Dixon, who has been the spokesman for the project, was made redundant two weeks ago as part of "general restructuring" within the Anglican church.

Last year Christchurch City Council refused a $240,000 funding application to help with running costs for the $5.3 million cardboard cathedral in Madras St, opposite Latimer Square.

Anglican church spokesman Jayson Rhodes says Dixon's position was terminated as part of a general restructuring, and his future involvement would be voluntary.

Financial considerations were part of the "minor" restructuring, where one or two positions were affected.

The cathedral's operations budget had to be "retrimmed" to suit the smaller new cathedral, he said.

Dixon confirmed his position had been "disestablished" after careful consideration of required staff for the new building.

He would not say why he had been made redundant, but said money "may well have been" one reason. "There are a number of reasons why my position was disestablished."

But Dixon's interest in the cardboard cathedral has not faded, and he has continued doing labouring work on the site since he was "keen to see it to the end".

"I'd quite like to do a bit more of that," he said. "At the moment the building is still going on and I far prefer to focus on completing the building. It's going to be fantastic for the city."

Fundraising expert Graeme Brady, who has helped raise millions of dollars for the former cathedral, said the diocese had "lost so many good people", and he was sorry to hear about Dixon's redundancy.

"He is one of the more creative people who add colour to the church and the Anglican church was always a diverse and colourful organisation."

Former convener of the transitional cathedral group for the Anglican diocese, Richard Gray, resigned from his position last November.

Engineers say the cathedral structure, expected to have a lifespan of more than 50 years, has been a challenge. The transitional Anglican cathedral, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, incorporates 98 beams encased in cardboard to form the A-shape.

The cathedral will be completed next month.

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