Free Theatre is confirming that our tenancy of the gymnasium building in the Arts Centre is ending.
The relationship between Free Theatre and the Arts Centre has been a long one and in many ways our identities have been intertwined. After establishing Free Theatre in 1979, the founding members built a new theatre in the Arts Centre in 1982, and we were the first arts-practice tenancy to take residence on the newly restored site.
We are immensely proud of what has been achieved in The Gym at the Arts Centre since we took up residence in September 2014. With the support of Christchurch City Council, Rata Foundation and CreativeNZ, we fitted out an empty building for contemporary performance, and then designed, developed and presented a New Works and Education Programme to show what is possible in contemporary performance in the new city.
While we would dearly love to continue to lease The Gym at the Arts Centre, we simply cannot afford it.
However, we are considering all the ways in which, through our programme, we can continue our 36–year relationship with the Arts Centre.
We will still present our programme in The Gym, including Ubu Nights and Kidsfest in July, and the development and presentation of Ars Acustica in August.
The Arts Centre will also use our facilities to host events over this time.
A huge amount of time, passion and energy has gone into making Free Theatre at The Gym a place that is special to Christchurch and unique in the wider theatre context. We would like to thank all the artists that have committed to making our time at the Arts Centre such a creative success. There are many projects and collaborations that have been initiated here that will grow and continue to be of significant benefit to Christchurch.
However, this is not the end of Free Theatre. The full Free Theatre programme will continue, so watch out for our next Ubu Nights inspired by the Grimm brothers!
We appreciate all the warm support the company has received, most recently with our New Zealand première of Tom Wait’s Alice, and we’re excited about the unique experiences we have planned for our 40th-year next year and beyond.
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