The Lyric Secures Urgent Funding

The Lyric Theatre Granity has secured vital funding from Bathurst Resources. This three year commitment of sponsorship means the theatre can continue serving the local population with music, theatrical performance, workshops and opportunities for social connection.

Built by the Granity Silver Band in 1956 at a time when the local population numbered 547, the theatre can now accommodate 434 people and is the largest indoor venue in Northern Buller. Since its opening, The Lyric Theatre has continued to amass strong input from the Northern Buller community and beyond. It reopened in 2022 following a significant community-led effort in its presentation and earthquake strengthening after ex-tropical cyclone Ita tore off the roof in 2014.

The Lyric Theatre's activities are largely focused toward community well-being through fostering opportunities and removing barriers for social connection, participation in the performing arts, low impact sports, collaborative workshops, cognitive skill building and events targeted towards vulnerable groups including youth, rainbow community, elderly and those with literacy/numeracy challenges or access limitations due to minimal transport infrastructure.

These initiatives and activities have been self-funded by The Lyric Theatre Granity Incorporated; the society charged with the theatres operation and preservation, by leveraging off large-scale performing arts and music events which draw larger attendance numbers in neighbouring regions such as Westport, Karamea, Reefton and Greymouth.

Unfortunately, with the significant reduction in funding available through national lottery grant programmes, the funding shortfall has impacted theatres, galleries and museums across New Zealand, forcing many into difficult decisions including staff layoffs and sacrificing long-term capital upgrades to cover increasing operation costs.

These funding cuts have hit The Lyric Theatre which is already operated solely by a volunteer work-force. After only receiving a third of their grant funding application to cover operational costs from the Lottery Community Facilities grant this year, receiving the funding from Bathurst Resources will enable the theatre to cover their largest expense; insurance premiums, which have nearly tripled in as many years.

The Lyric Theatre Granity Inc. Chairperson, Carlos de Treend, says the reduction in available grant funding had dealt a blow to their confidence in the theatre's sustainable future and likened reading the fund allocation to looking into an abyss.

“At a time of significant growth in events, attracting performances and audiences from across New Zealand, we were devastated by this funding shortfall and the implication that we would need to pass the increased costs onto our attendees, effectively unravelling the hard yards we’d already covered,” he says.

Carlos, also responsible for the marketing and promotion of the theatre's events approached Bathurst Resources who had sponsored The Lyric Theatre’s transport from Westport - a 60km round trip - since November 2023.

“Bathurst has kindly supported some of our larger-scale events by essentially providing a safe-passage solution for Westport residents to attend our events and return home,” Carlos says. “We recognised however, uptake had been low and felt the sponsorship from Bathurst could go towards something more immediately meaningful and impactful in the long-term.”

Carlos says the life-line of financial support from Bathurst Resources and commitment until 2027 recognises the importance and value of the work The Lyric Theatre is undertaking; delivering high well-being outcomes to the community and fostering opportunities to access, engage with and participate in the performing arts.

“Our team feel an equal measure of relief and gratitude for Bathurst’s ongoing support. This has enabled us to plan ahead to ensure future generations can continue benefiting from this unique community resource and that it remains in the hands of its people,” Carlos says. “The future is looking brighter already.”

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