Founders Theatre closure

​Chief Executive Richard Briggs has made a decision to close Founders Theatre on an interim basis on health and safety grounds as an interim measure until more engineering investigations are completed into issues with the flying system.

The following FAQs provide more information, but fuller details are available at

Closure FAQs

When is the interim closure effective from?
It is effective immediately and until further notice.

I have a ticket already to a show at Founders Theatre – how do I find out what’s happening?
In the first instance you should regularly check on for updates about events. As we follow up with each event organiser they will make decisions about their event. This will take place over the next few weeks and we ask ticket holders to be patient while we work through alternative arrangements.

If an event has to be cancelled ticket holders will get a full refund.

Should you have an urgent enquiry about your ticket please contact Ticketek on 0800 TICKETEK.

How do I find out where my show is moving to?
Keep checking on for updates about events. We’ll be keeping the page updated with alternative venues and information on shows.

Who can I talk to for more information?
You can call Founders Theatre on 07 838-6600 - Ext 2 if you’d like to talk to one of our team.

Background FAQs

How old is Founders Theatre?
It was built in 1962, making it nearly 54 years old. It had an expected life of around 50 years.

What were the main issues of concern identified?
The flying system*, which holds lighting, scenic elements, the fire curtain and other items is not certified.  The report highlighted that the age of the system means the load capacity is not rated (i.e. it cannot be confirmed) putting the weight bearing capacity of the whole system in question. In addition, part of the system dates back to 1962 and requires manual operation by operators lifting heavy loads by hand.

There is concern that the system holds significant loads, but there is no engineering certification available so the “safe load capacity” can only be assumed.  It can’t be tested.

The report indicates there are real and ongoing risks to HCC staff, to performers and to audiences if the flying system continues to be used.

Could you not just replace the whole flying system?
No.  To permanently retrofit the stage and flying system to today’s standards is not possible in the existing space available. Extensive structural work would be required in the stage house to do this and that would trigger further earthquake strengthening work in other parts of the building. It would also require upgrades to various building services such as fire protection to bring it up to the current building standards.

As already noted there are also concerns about the seismic strength of the building, particularly in relation to the stage house and auditorium structures.  A more detailed structural design assessment on this has been commissioned.

Could shows and events scheduled for Founders Theatre be moved to alternative venues like Clarence St Theatre or the Claudelands Events Centre?
Some of them may be able to, but not all. Staff are working through that now and will be talking individually to every organisation that has booked Founders Theatre going forward.

How many forward bookings are there?
There are 25 contracted bookings through until November 2016 and a further 80+ pencilled bookings (including repeat annual bookings) out as far as 2019.

Has Council spoken to those groups that have made bookings?
We have already started speaking to all of them individually. We appreciate this will be a significant challenge for many of our hirers and we will work with them to assist and support them as best we can.

* What is a flying system?

A flying system is located above the stage and holds elements that support a production.  These elements include curtains, lights, scenery, stage effects and sometimes people.  Scenic elements including backdrops can be changed quickly by being flown (i.e. hoisted) into the space above the stage, out of view of the audience. 

​The flying system is essential for lighting and curtains (in​cluding the fire safety curtain).  A flying system is made up of a system of ropes, pulleys, counterweights, battens and related components suspended from a grid structure fixed inside the roof of the stage house.​

Page reviewed: 05 May 2016 11:30pm