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Our situation

The local boards (initially Maungakiekie and currently Ōrākei), have been setting a discretionary rate for our annual hire of the venue since 1989. This was around $11,000 with a small annual increase of around 3%.

During 2018 Ōrākei Local Board stopped this discretionary rate. As a result, our rent increased to the full rate of around $90,000 per annum. We were entitled to the 50% discount for community organizations set by Auckland Council but that still left a new rate of around $45,000. To us, this is a rise of 375% and is greater than our average total income before grants of around $40,000. With other expenses averaging $28,000 this leaves a new deficit, before grants, of around $33,000 per annum.

We had been in discussion with the local board since this change and made it clear that although we could pay this for the current year, we could not sustain this rate ongoing and it would leave no funds to mount our productions. They asked us to see what grants we could obtain before they would revisit the rates set. We continued to pay the amount that we had previously been paying with a small annual increase, while trying to source additional funding through grants.

In December last year they made a resolution in the local board meeting to call in the $32,000 shortfall owing, even if it meant we had to close the theatre. It appeared that obtaining our revenue was more important than supporting our continuity, we’d just be another local arts organisation casualty. We have enough to pay this shortfall, but it leaves us without funds to continue beyond our current production.

A little history

In 1989 Ellerslie mayor, Leon Leicester, invited the Pakuranga Community Theatre to create a community theatre group for Ellerslie and take up residence in the Ellerslie War Memorial Hall. Plans were drawn up to upgrade the hall to make it suitable for a theatre. The upgrades were made, the theatre group moved in and Ellerslie Theatrical Society Inc. (ETS) was born.

Under the shuffling of Auckland City Council, the hall came under the control of the Maungakiekie Community Board. The board continued with the vision of Leon Lester and decided that the rates charged for community theatre should be a special case, given the need for auditions, rehearsals, seating and other facilities, and that ETS did not fit with the model of chargeable hours that was set for other hirers. A different charging mechanism was created for ETS.

ETS was given permission to install the ‘Stables Theatre’ lettering on the front wall of the building and to add the frame that still supports our billboards on that wall. Internal documents and correspondence with Maungakiekie Local Board established that the hall was regarded as the home of ETS, and that this relationship was on a long-term basis.

You can help

Renew your membership or/and make a donation by clicking here or email saveETS@ellerslietheatre.co.nz or contact Rona Colbert on 09 525 3336

Support Proof - book your tickets now by clicking here or email bookings@ellerslietheatre.co.nz or contact Ronal Colbert on 09 525 3336.

Speak out - share your stories and pictures on social media (twitter, facebook, Instagram …) and include #saveETS. Tell us what ETS or community theatre meant or means to you and why it’s important for these opportunities to continue. Did theatre help you become confident in public or give you purpose? Did you meet new friends? How did it spark your interest or imagination? How does it make you feel?


If you would like more information about this situation, please contact David Blakey at: saveETS@ellerslietheatre.co.nz or call 027 495 3794.