10 September 2008
A recommendation for a new Community Rate for Hamilton City Theatres was made by the Environment and Community Committee today with a proposed fixed rate being available for the benefit of non-profit Hamilton community groups. The recommendation is to be submitted to Council for consideration at its meeting on 24 September.
Criteria for eligibility for the rate will align with national standards set by IRD for community groups and non-profit organisations and will require applicants to be Hamilton-based.
A Theatre Subsidies Working Party headed by Councillors Westphal, Mahood and Saunders was formed in February 2008 to review concerns raised regarding the existing community hire rates for use of the three Hamilton City Theatres; Founders Theatre, Clarence St Theatre and The Meteor.
Councillor Matijke Westphal says that after considerable research, benchmarking and consultation it became clear that the Community Rate system represented the fairest approach for both the user and the ratepayer.
“It is important to appreciate that the theatres in Hamilton are already considerably subsidised by the ratepayer, to the tune of around 60 per cent. We are no where near operating at a cost recovery model, subsequently there must be a fine balance struck between the cost to the ratepayer and the support given to our local community and performing arts groups.”
Following Council’s adoption of the restructured fees and charges for Hamilton City Theatres in its 2007/08 Annual Plan, concerns were expressed by some local groups about the impact of the new fees and charges on them, and the uncertainty regarding the transparency and application of the subsidies process.
The Working Party reviewed the adopted fees and charges, including the benchmarked pricing and further endorsed the Commercial Charges adopted by Council in its Annual Plan.
All community groups that have used the theatres over the last two years were invited to community consultation forums held in June.
“The new Community Rate provides affordable hiring pricing to community groups. We are however acutely aware that there are certain groups who will not meet the eligibility criteria and subsequently will feel the effect of this change. Businesses such as private dance and drama schools that operate profit based businesses during the year will not be eligible for the rate as they do not comply with the IRD assessment for community status. These groups may consider a legal restructure of their operations to reflect their community focused operation to qualify for standards set by the IRD” says Ms Westphall.
If the new community rates are approved they will come into effect as from January 2009 with all newly signed contracts. Written correspondence to all existing hirer groups explaining the new process and highlighting the revised community rates will be sent out to affected groups.
Groups wishing to apply for the Community Rate will be evaluated for eligibility and then placed on a Community Assistance Register which will automatically entitle them to the Community Rate for future bookings.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Name: Mark Christie
Designation: Event Facilities Mangaer
Tel (Direct): 07 838 5801
Mobile: 021 775 607
Name: Marijke Westphal
Designation: Councillor – West Ward
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6657
Mobile: 021 341 782
Name: Sarah Bettle
Designation: Communication Manager
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6843
Mobile: 021 279 2338