Perspective: stadium turmoil outweighs arts festival failure

The old names keep popping up.

Responsibility for the accounting and administration of The Otago Festival of the Arts 2012 falls squarely on the board of trustees. No-one else.

Learn more about The Otago Festival of the Arts Trust here.
Registration No: 980660

Paul Dallimore, patron
Malcolm Farry, chairman
Beverley Smith
Warren Leslie
Stuart McLauchlan
Rosey McConnon
Barbara Larson

One of the trustees is prominent chartered accountant and professional director Stuart McLauchlan.

The chairman of the arts trust is Malcolm Farry, better known as chairman of the Carisbrook Stadium Charitable Trust. The stadium trust has occupied a central role in the set-up and failure of Dunedin’s new Forsyth Barr stadium, involving a multimillion dollar cost blowout and contributing heavily to the overall indebtedness of Dunedin City Council and council companies.

Mr Farry’s business consultancy, Farry Riddell, operating out of Forsyth Barr House, was advertising prominently in the Otago Daily Times recently. The online identity for the firm has a ‘global’ black and white theme (link).

Mr Farry yesterday apologised for the delays, saying they had been caused by poor administration of the event.

### ODT Online Sat, 15 Dec 2012
Festival turmoil: artists to be paid
By John Lewis
An interim manager has been appointed to the Otago Festival of the Arts to sort out the disarray in the organisation’s financial affairs. Of about 30 local, national and international groups who performed in the October 5-14 event in Dunedin, some have not been paid. Festival director Alec Wheeler has resigned. However, Festival Trust chairman Malcolm Farry said yesterday all artists would be paid by the end of the year.

A source close to the organisation said historically, all artists were paid before they performed, but this year’s acts were not.

Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, Concerts, Economics, Events, Fun, Media, Name, People, Politics, Project management

54 responses to “Perspective: stadium turmoil outweighs arts festival failure

  1. Peter

    I understand Alec Wheeler has secured herself a good job in the arts/theatre sector in Auckland. She also had responsible positions running arts festivals in Canada and Wellington. What has gone wrong here?
    I think there is more to this story than is reported in the ODT.

  2. Calvin Oaten

    Peter; I think we know what’s gone wrong. When he gets involved it always goes wrong.

  3. Peter

    As in, turns to shit? Why don’t I believe The Word(s)?

  4. Peter

    How unfortunate. He takes over as Chair, after twelve or so years of successful management by Nicholas Mc Bryde and Paul Dallimore and, whoopsey, it turns to custard. It would kinda make you feel like a loser, wouldn’t it.

    • Elizabeth

      While there’s all this free exposure due to the arts festival, not sure I want to risk a first free consult at Farry Riddell. Anyway, I can invoice them later for the ad.

  5. Hype O'Thermia

    Times must be hard, the poor blighter’s had to use a photo from a long time ago.

  6. ormk

    I hope we get justice in the ongoing and upcoming investigations of rorts and corruption in the DCC and associated organisations. Whatever happens I think we as citizens should commission a large bronze featuring the key protagonists in stocks. We need to make sure their names are remembered for their actual deeds, not from some spin in a media they control.

    Let us aim to have such a bronze in place before 2020. All we need is a bit of prominent land where someone will let us place the work and a sculptor. If everyone chips in this should be easily achievable.

    • Elizabeth

      ormk – that’s a splendid idea and easily arranged. If the ‘modelled’ want to sue anyone over this, we can throw in bronzed counsel to which they can direct their suits.

  7. Rob Hamlin

    Get a load of this on the Miami stadium.
    Amongst numerous other interesting things, it even LOOKS like ours in the picture on the first page!

    The difference is of course that rather than the useless privilege of submitting to our lot, Miami’s ratepayers could (and did) directly recall and sack theirs by an 88/12 margin.

    • Elizabeth

      Rob, holy mackerel… in this case, marlin.

      Have to love Tim Elfrink’s opening paragraph:

      “Like a festering, silver-plated pustule, a grotesquely huge can opener, or just an obscene ode to wasted cash, the new Florida Marlins stadium is rising above Miami’s skyline. Whether you’re driving down a tree-shaded block in Little Havana or cruising the Dolphin Expressway to South Beach, there it is: a $515 million money sucker that is probably the worst deal for taxpayers of any stadium in America.”

    • Elizabeth

      Information just to hand from an anonymous source….

      The festival
      The former art studio they are based in – beside Fortune Theatre – had a significant makeover to accommodate The Otago Festival of the Arts office: painting, signage, fittings and window screening, etc. On top of that would be rental costs. I inquired about the lower level when it last came up for lease and it was from $350 plus outgoings plus GST per week.

      A sign on the door says it is closed, without a why or when it will reopen (as it appears):

      currently closed
      Please phone the Office on 477 7600
      and leave a message, and we will respond to your enquiry
      We apologize for any inconvenience

      The formation of that message suggests they whipped it up quick and left in the American spelling in their rush. Might just be reading too much into it.

      Sort of sounds like a whole shitload of cash was spent on making themselves cosy, administrative costs, and pimping a fancy pants website at before all the bills were paid. It’s important to look legit when you’re doing business ;)

      • Elizabeth

        What really happened?

        ###ODT Online Wed, 9 Jan 2013
        Most arts festival creditors have been paid
        By John Lewis
        More than three months after the Otago Festival of the Arts was held in Dunedin, all but a few creditors have been paid in full. The festival was held on October 5 to 14, and performers began venting their frustration in December when they still had not been paid. Otago Festival of the Arts Trust chairman Malcolm Farry said the process of paying most creditors took place just before Christmas, but there may be ”one or two” creditors that still required “further details”. However, Mr Farry was pleased the issue had been largely resolved and was now focusing on the organisation of the 2014 Festival of the Arts.[…]After the festival, the trust found paperwork and financial records had not been put together properly, making it impossible to get a clear picture of the festival’s affairs.
        Read more


        Note the word ‘after’… didn’t the trust, with a chartered accountant on board (Stuart McLauchlan) and a business adviser (Malcolm Farry), have all governance systems in place to check staff activity including the books prior to and during the festival. After? Why is Malcolm Farry being allowed to slander former festival director Alec Wheeler by innuendo in the ODT? Perhaps the whole ODT has turned into a blog.

  8. Calvin Oaten

    Probably worked on a ‘business plan’ supplied by ‘Farry Riddell Consultancy” for a small fee.

  9. amanda

    But what a hoot reading the article and how ‘businessman’ Farry can do no wrong in the loving eyes of the ODT; they contorted that story so that Farry is the ‘hero’ who saves the day against the dastardly festival director. lol. The love affair between our local ‘media’ and ‘prominent local businessmen’ continues and what a show it is!

  10. David

    In May of 2012, the ODT reported Farry was angered that the Mayor had “stooped to innuendo and baseless allegations” about CST’s responsibility in relation to the stadium’s abysmal financial position. Farry complained that the Mayor’s comments “impinged” on the integrity of the CST. He then blamed the DCC for the outcome, as (by his account) it was the DCC that was accountable for all final decisions. Does anyone else find it hypocritical and dastardly that less than 7 months later Farry is, himself, “stooping to innuendo and false allegations” against former festival director Wheeler? (I note that the ODT failed to get a statement from Wheeler. Perhaps, this has something to do with the fact that one of the board members is married to ODT Chief, Julian Smith.) Farry is also very quick to hoist blame onto the festival director, absolving himself and the board of all responsibility. But surely, by his own policy, it is the Board who would have made the call on all final decisions and the board who should therefore be held responsible? In the festival article, Farry claims that the 2012 Festival was a success and was well supported, which is a fair assessment from what I observed. I have a lot of friends and colleagues who felt it was the best programme in years. However, I reckon this is more a reflection of Wheeler’s efforts than that of the Board who, by their own admission, were largely out of touch until “after” the festival was over. (Peter, you make a good point about Wheeler’s work history being at odds with Farry’s accusations.) There certainly is more going on here that we’ve been led to believe. If you ask me, Farry and that group of cronies have been using Dunedin as their personal playpen for far too long – for their personal gain and to the detriment of far too many people. I wonder what it will take before our community will take action? Down with Goliath.

  11. Hype O'Thermia

    It’s the easiest thing on earth to accuse someone else of “innuendo and baseless allegations” and leave it at that without the potential embarrassment of producing the evidence that innuendo was not fair comment, and that allegations made were indeed baseless. For one thing, it might end up with revelations of how thoroughly biased they were, when the details of the covert going-on had to be revealed. Much quicker to go for a sound-bite in compliant media, safe in the knowledge that investigative journalism isn’t going to be tasked with busy-bodying into the story behind the accusations and counter-accusations. The “dangerous” investigators in this cow-town are those who unpaid do the delving, put facts and figures from several sources together to piece the truth together – then can only be published in online sites like this one. What a good thing that What If has such a wide readership, not that everyone who keeps a careful eye on it is prepared to “come out of the closet” but many of us have noticed in conversations with a range of people how widely the knowledge is spreading because of the way “unreported” material comes up in conversations.

  12. Russell Garbutt

    Farry has absolutely no leg to stand on when anyone accuses him of inability to control expenditure. Let us not allow any spin on this at all from this coot. He promised ratepayers and the compliant and incompetent previous Council of a stadium built with private funds and a top price of $188m. While many on this site and other venues ridiculed his claims and promises he got away with it largely through the GOB’s activities and an equally compliant ODT. It wasn’t until the PWC report that the truth was revealed. I think that the best that Farry can by called is hypocritical – many others would call him a lot lot worse.

  13. Pedant

    Hmmm, Carisbrook sold yet?

  14. amanda

    Thank you David for that interesting bit of information that one of the Arts festival board members is married to Smith of the ODT. It really does pay to keep an eye on people behind the scenes and how they are related, it fleshes out the story more. As you rightly point out, the festival director was thrown under the bus and Farry comes out, as usual in the ODT, smelling of roses.

  15. amanda

    In ODT-land Farry is the person who can do no wrong and is a business genius. Seriously chuckle inducing and a good pointer of what the priorities of our local media are; are they bothered at all by incompetent people in control of the public purse? No way!

  16. Peter

    Walking past the Otago Arts Festival Office in Upper Stuart St yesterday I saw a notice on the door saying the office is now closed and to call the phone number therein listed. This may be quite innocent as the festival is at a quiet period in its cycle. Or is there more to this? There will probably be an answer phone. Damn things when you want to talk to a person!

  17. Anonymous

    The word “carpetbagger” can’t be applied to someone who has been resident for so long…

    {Wikipedia on carpetbagger, also mentions “stooges” (see Historiography). -Eds}

  18. Calvin Oaten

    Malcolm Farry has this ability to make a ‘mountain out of a molar,’ and then adopt his napoleonic pose on the top to protest to the world his innocence. Teflon coated, just like my frypan.

  19. David

    Peter, you mentioned that Wheeler has moved on to new employment in Auckland; do you know where? Perhaps, it would be a worthwhile exercise to try to get in touch and seek out the other side of the story? Mind you, if I were in Wheeler’s shoes I’d likely want to leave all thoughts of Farry well behind. Still, she might like to know that there are other opinions that oppose those held by the ODT and its blind disciples.

  20. Russell Garbutt

    Pedant, the answer to your question is obviously “no”. Carisbrook has not been sold, and maybe the question why it hasn’t been sold should be addressed specifically to Peter “I’ve only got my eyes closed and I’m not sleeping really” Chin, and Jim “I’m only here for what I can screw out of the Council” Harland. For it was this pairing – a sort of twins from Hell – who told us that it made excellent financial sense for the DCC to pay $7m to the ORFU for their property because we, as a City, needed industrial land, needed the ORFU to be “sound financially so they could be anchor tenants of the stadium”, and could flick it on easily to a number of eager buyers who were simply lining up at the doors of the Council to buy it.

    The other thing was that they used a valuer to underpin their decision to borrow the $7m and start paying interest on that borrowing.

    Now, time to not pull back from reality.

    Either there was no valuation to underpin the decision to purchase, or the value placed on the property by the valuer was bullshit and given to support the decision already made to get the ORFU out of hock, or the valuation was simply incompetent.

    No matter what, Carisbrook has not been sold and we must assume that it has not been sold because the value previously placed upon it by this “valuer” is not prepared to be met by any buyers. In short, another example of incompetence, mirrored by the Delta wrtie-downs at Jacks Point and Luggate.

    This is what I say. Harland and Chin in my view, need to demonstrate that their decision to purchase Carisbrook for a cost to ratepayers at $7m plus on-going interest payments, was based on sound financial sense and competent governance and management. If they can’t, then why should we not believe that they are guilty of community fraud?

    • Elizabeth

      Dunedin City Council – Media Release
      Input Sought on Industrial Activities and Zoning

      This item was published on 17 Jan 2013

      Where industry should be allowed to operate and the sorts of planning controls that should be placed on it will be up for discussion at a series of Dunedin City Council District Plan workshops in the next few months.

      The workshops are being held as part of the ‘issues and options’ consultation phase of a comprehensive review process that will lead to the development of second generation District Plan. The current plan was first introduced in 1995.

      DCC City Development Manager Dr Anna Johnson says the council is keen to get stakeholder input in relation to the management of industrial activities, as well as other activities within the industrial zone.

      “We are working closely with the Chamber of Commerce who are putting us in touch with their membership who have an interest in industrial matters. We have identified a number of key issues and locations where we think improvements could be made and we would like to discuss these with both businesses and landowners through a series of workshops.

      “Some of the issues are general and may be of interest to a range of people, while others are location-specific so may only be of interest to those with property or businesses in these areas.”

      Issues to be discussed include whether there is sufficient land available for industrial activities and, if not, where it should be provided. Another is whether light industry should be distinguished from heavy industry and be able to operate in ‘mixed use’ zones, for example in parts of the CBD or in the Warehouse precinct.

      “Mixing of a range of activities already occurs in some parts of the industrial zone, and we are keen to hear from people about how these areas should be managed in the future,” says Dr Johnson.

      Management of height and reverse sensitivity in the industrial zone are other topics which will be covered.

      “As well as getting feedback on these topics we want to hear from people about issues and options which may not have been identified yet.”

      The DCC’s website contains more information regarding the review of the District Plan including more details of the issues and options being considered for the industry zone. Please refer to

      Contact Dr Anna Johnson, City Development Manager Dunedin City Council on 477 4000.

      DCC Link

  21. Anonymous

    Hehe, maximum PR puff. Nobody does any real work in that corrupt hole anymore. Monty’s Lumberjack tune regularly comes to mind when I read that sort of manufactured blowhard.

    • Elizabeth

      What’s annoying is particular staff feel the need to put their ‘PhD’ status before their name implying their doctorate relates to the position they occupy at council. The falseness of this is beyond belief – the council is not the frigging academy. It appears the Spooks are also keen to play this stupid game.

  22. Hype O'Thermia

    What’s the point of industrial zones these days? Have zones of noise, smell, height and traffic movement limits. Most industrial buildings are quieter to walk past than some homes and many of them are completely quiet from 5.30pm to 8am. If a company wants to turn out merino widget cosies in Heriot Row and the knitting machines have no more impact on the neighbourhood than other neighbours, so what? Having industries de-zoned so they can establish in any area, long as they fit the specs for that area, would allow more people to work near home, or move nearer work.
    An advantage of that is that the council officials are hard on businesses for noise and emissions, so they would have to apply equal standards to everyone in the area. Hurrah – no more cash-economy panelbeaters working at home from 8 on weekend mornings!
    And no more nail guns when the neighbours decide to add a deck big enough to land a Fokker Friendship on and the builders work honest 40hr weeks with all too short breaks? Yeah…… hoping too much aye.

    • Elizabeth

      Given I back protection of the Rural Zone and that’s about it, aren’t Zones just a mechanism to provide work for resource management consultants and lawyers, under the Resource Management Act.

    • Elizabeth

      The BS continues.

      ### ODT Online Mon, 21 Jan 2013
      City’s industrial land needs to fore
      By Simon Hartley
      Industrially zoned land around Dunedin – and specifically in the central business district – could be in for some radical changes. Industrially zoned land has been an ongoing issue for decades, and following recent site-specific changes to some former industrial zones, there is rising concern industrial development opportunities could be lost. In the months ahead, the Dunedin City Council will host a series of consultative workshops to identify issues, ranging from land availability, height restrictions, the controversial ”reverse sensitivity” element and the potential for introduction of a new ”light industry” zoning. Both the DCC and the Otago Chamber of Commerce are aligning on the issue, and are inviting large land-holders, including Port Otago’s subsidiary Chalmers Properties, to take part in consultation, alongside communities, businesses and developers.
      Read more

  23. Peter

    David. Not sure exactly where Ms Wheeler moved to, except I heard it was somewhere in Auckland theatre circles. Forgotten now where I even got this info from.
    I imagine she has ‘moved on’, as they say, and gratified that she is well shot of Dunedin and Malcolm Farry in particular.Suffice to say that whatever he has to say on the management of the Otago Arts Festival with its current problems can be taken with a grain of salt.
    Calvin. Even teflon loses its coating and ‘stuff’ starts to stick.

  24. Anonymous

    Dunedin City Council is not the only corrupt institution that requires a “communications and public relations” to hide its management inadequacies. While it spent millions, the Southern District Health Board has started spending hundreds of thousands on its Spooks. Soon to employ more of them. Useless critters in an environment where medical staff are more important than managers and It’s All About Me people. This of course an institution that laid off staff so it could consolidate and save money… The ODT story is great though. No hard questions, just a bit of reporting on the Spooks doing wonderfully and “board will claw back more than $13,000”. I don’t think there’s going to be much change on council reporting from Sir this election.

  25. Anonymous

    Calvin, my kid can wear down a teflon coating with a toy spatula in no time. When it seems nothing has been gained, he wanders off and comes back to it later and has another go at working in a kitchen utensil. Means we have to replace the pan, but a cracked one can be recycled for clearing the poop off the lawn or growing a tomato plant.

  26. Hype O'Thermia – the unspun story about “riches” from rugby world cup.

  27. Calvin Oaten

    Russell, the whole DCC, ORFU, Stadium triangle is/was based on FRAUD. The purchase of Carisbrook is but one chapter of the fraudulent manipulations conducted throughout the project. It was a connivance between DCC, ORFU and the CST with a supporting cast of dozens which saw the ‘game’ of rugby brought into serious disrepute. It is like a great ‘suppurating’ sore right under the rate payers’ skin. It will not go away in generations, the debt will just sit there sulking and growing, the city cannot and will not progress unless this great ‘cancer’ is removed. The sooner it is dealt to the better. First move would be to cut all city ties with rugby support, second shut down the Stadium, send DVML and DVL packing, assess the holding costs and ‘suck up’ and wear it. It would be the cheapest option by far. All sporting bodies need to relearn that they have to live within their own means. It is more than sufficient that the city provides the grounds and maintains them, without the rate payers having to subsidise all of their ‘wishlists.’

  28. Calvin Oaten

    Peter and Anon; Teflon may well wear thin but when it is over a layer of ‘snake oil’ it seems even more impervious.

  29. Hype O'Thermia

    …….and releases snake venom when damage starts to look serious…..

  30. Anonymous

    Most of those will be hoping time will limit the extent of their culpability. It is why most of the Stadium Councillors hold onto their seats in council and why some of Lesser Dunedin are there. All but a fraction want accountability because they are responsible. Reason again for chucking out the whole ghastly lot and voting in a Mayor unafraid to do those things Calvin notes above (each time this is provided saves the council tens of thousands for a consultant to report the same). Watch as the GOBs rally their Rugby Religious into action and the ODT do what the ODT does well.

  31. Russell Garbutt

    I think Calvin that you are dead right. I feel that anyone that misrepresents themselves is of a mind to do all sorts of other things. A simple example is the picture that Farry uses to illustrate himself on his own homepage. I think it is at least a couple of decades old and certainly a person that met him today would be hard pressed to recognise him as the same person. Another person that fits into this category is Neil Collins who also lives in a dream world of what he used to be, rather than what he is. Ego? Vanity?

    So my point is that while Farry may have looked like this 20 years ago, he doesn’t look like this now. Just a small deception you would think, but it demonstrates a state of mind. Of course Farry’s deeds were much more serious than this simple deception and there is no doubt in my mind bearing in mind the briefing meeting I attended with him when he announced that the existing ORFU loan by the DCC would be “written off”, that his deeds have been very serious and deserving of him being held to account.

    If you look at Farry’s homepage long enough without being physically ill, you will also see that he is claiming that he is responsible for the University facility in front of the stadium by inference.

    But he could not have conducted his widespread activities without the active or tacit support of an incompetent Council – both at Governance and Management levels. The likes of Brown, Hudson and a few others for being actively involved, and the likes of Collins, Acklin and a few more for being simply too stupid to even understand what was going on.

    What a different situation Dunedin would be in if Paul Orders had been CEO over the last decade. And that says to me that Jimbo is surely still able to be held to account for either incompetence or by providing Council with reports and recommendations that he must have known simply didn’t stack up. The Carisbrook purchase is but one example.

  32. Peter

    Calvin. Truth Serum is a great antidote to the resistance from snake oil. Many applications needed while you proceed to ‘spray and walk away’.

  33. Hype O'Thermia

    There’s some interesting info coming through on McPravda’s opinion site regarding “profits” from cruise ships now. If Dunedin is to make a dollar from tourism the planning MUST be based on fact not dreams: large numbers do not automatically mean large profits. Quite likely the opposite, as they tend to be organised and herded for benefit to the offshore organiser. And they briefly overrun services and attractions, then vanish leaving little $$ trace behind. A clear-eyed examination of visitor behaviour would, I believe, show that the much-maligned campervan travellers are a better bet. For one thing they can change their itinerary if they find there is more to see and do in Dunedin, say, than the next place they were planning to go to. And a steady flow of visitors is better for business operators and staff, leading to more people having real permanent jobs rather than being on call for a day here, a day there, no security of income.

    • Elizabeth

      Blame Tourism Dunedin, DCC, consultants and others for giving false boost to actual levels of spend in relation to cruise ships and events in the city. Those clear thinkers at the UoO Department of Tourism know how false the claims are (we’ve certainly recognised the issue for years via political/leadership differences between Tourism Dunedin and Dunedin Host, for example), I wish they could become vocal about it in a way that helps the tourism sector develop product, not to crash its used car salespeople. A lot came out in private discussion at the time of the hotel hearings. I’m not sure why the numbers are allowed to be so slant from this business sector. Gush doesn’t help grow jobs.

  34. Hype O'Thermia

    QsRC demonstrates stadium supporters’ intellectual grasp of the issues in this (t)witty comment –

  35. ### ODT Online Tue, 9 Apr 2013
    Former director back to run festival
    By Nigel Benson
    It is out with the new and in with the old at the Otago Festival of the Arts. The festival trust yesterday reappointed founding director Nicholas McBryde, after posting a loss at last year’s event. It was the first time in its 12-year history the biennial festival had posted a deficit, which the Otago Daily Times understands could be up to $150,000. Trustees had to secure significant donations to offset the loss and the festival also exhausted its $60,000 cash reserves.
    ”It could have died,” Mr McBryde (55) said yesterday. ”I’m relishing this as a new challenge, which is strange, because I left after 12 years feeling that I had nothing new to give and that it was time for someone else to have a turn. This is the Otago Festival of the Arts Mk 2, not a repeat of what’s been before. The market has shifted and things are different now and people’s expectations are different, too.”
    Mr McBryde was the founding director when the festival debuted in 2000.
    ”We’re absolutely delighted with the appointment. He is a tried and proven director who brings a lot of experience to the role,” festival trust chairman Malcolm Farry said yesterday.
    Read more

    • [Whatever he touches turns to gold] festival trust chairman Malcolm Farry, chartered accountant Stuart McLaughlan, and friends failed in ‘governance’ and continue to allow the former festival director to wear all the blame —despicable. In other words, how good were they???: [ODT] “Last year, the festival made the first loss – understood to be in six figures – in its 12-year history, under Canadian director Alec Wheeler. Founding director Mr McBryde was reappointed to the role in April.”

      ### ODT Online Fri, 6 Dec 2013
      Dame Kiri prelude to renamed festival
      By Nigel Benson
      Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will make what could be her swan song in Dunedin next year, as part of a rebranded Otago Festival of the Arts. The June 1 concert would be a curtain-raiser for the renamed Arts Festival Dunedin, festival director Nicholas McBryde said yesterday.
      Read more

      Earlier comment:

  36. Peter

    Is Farry going to continue as Chairman of the Board? For Nicholas’ sake, I hope not.

  37. David

    Farry and the ODT strike again. It’s shocking the seemingly broad-sweeping and defamatory comments that continue to be published about Wheeler, while Farry continues to play the humble hero. Rubbish. Even if the full extent of the accusations being leveled against Wheeler are true – something I don’t buy for a minute, especially coming from Farry’s forked tongue – surely the confidentiality agreement that Farry alluded to previously prevents him from speaking publicly on the matter? In fact, assuming Wheeler’s resignation required some form of legal process, I’d hazard a guess that Farry – and by association, the ODT – is in breach of whatever agreement was reached. Is anyone going to take this guy to task? And what about those financial figures? How could the Festival have suffered a deficit of $150k due to alleged overspending without the trustees knowing about it until after the festival? The Festival is a Trust, so the trustees have to approve budgets, counter-sign all expenditures and would have had access to the festival finances and bank account – how could they not have picked up on an accumulative, supposed overspend of $150k? So much for governance! At least there is some consolation that McBryde has returned to the directorship – let’s hope his reputed super powers are enough to overcome the machiavellianism at work behind the scenes.

  38. David

    Did anyone else read the ODT article from a couple weeks back? Wheeler is in Christchurch at the Court Theatre, not in Auckland. Still, interesting that she successfully landed a management role with such a nationally renowned company. Looks like the Court didn’t buy into the bullshit either – good on them. As an aside, I was impressed with the restraint and graciousness in Wheeler’s remarks – more than I would have been capable of if I were in her place.

  39. Peter

    Let’s remember how Farry’s CST would bill its monthly costs to the council on invoices without any detail shown.This was signed off by Athol Stephens. Millions of dollars were involved, as we know.
    Why would we have any confidence, therefore, in Farry as Chairman of the Festival of Arts Board? They should get rid of him.

  40. David

    I note that this thread has been dormant for a while, however, I recently found myself wondering what, if any, further scuttlebutt had circulated in the wake of the 2014 Festival. I was out of town for this year’s event, but a quick online search revealed a couple of articles containing statements that were intriguing, to say the least, and worth closer examination. In an article entitled “Attendance ‘on par'” published in October, the ODT regurgitates a series of facts and figures on previous festival seasons, while McBryde is careful to tactfully lower expectations for the 2014 season. The article then goes on to claim that “Ticket sales were not recorded for the 2012 Festival. Mr McBryde was not festival director that year.” I’d like to know how the festival was able to secure funding and sponsorship for another season if, as claimed, ticket sales (and by association, audience numbers) were not recorded? I also note, the second of the two consecutive sentences is another dig at the 2012 director, albeit more veiled than earlier attempts to vilify her. If ticket sales were not recorded, does this also imply that external ticketing agents failed to deliver on their obligations as well? I wonder how Ticket Direct, The Regent and other box office affiliates felt about this claim ? The second article, entitled “Arts festival needs broader range” published earlier this month also contains some somewhat contradictory statements. (I do recall skimming over it when it was first published, but it is only in reading it again online that I note some interesting discrepancies.) First off, the financial loss off the 2012 festival has gone from well over $150,000 as first reported by the ODT (and the Festival?) to a “shortfall of more than $100,000”. Makes one wonder if the $50,000 difference was a result of deliberate over-exaggeration, poor reporting, sloppy math skills or a combination of these? Secondly, I’d be mighty curious to know what the festival budgeted for its 2014 season and how they managed to attain a $10,000 surplus when they had “disappointing” box office numbers and an accumulative funding/sponsorship shortfall of $110,000? The final point of interest, for me, was the rather anecdotal dialogue about the festival’s aim to offer a broader range of programming and lower ticket prices in order to attract wider audience attendance in 2016. Funny, I seem to recall this being a clear aim that was introduced in the 2012 festival season and quite successfully from a festival patron’s perspective. While I still maintain that Ms Wheeler was yet another scapegoat for Farry and his Machiavellian mob, I am an advocate for the arts and support the festival, in so much as it does offer up quality programming. However, I can’t help but wonder, in the wake of show cancellations, theatres closing and arts initiatives struggling across the country, whether the 2012 festival figures were less a case of negligence and more an indication of a seemingly inevitable downward trend in arts sustainability. But I guess this is a question that, in part, cannot be answered seeing as “Ticket sales were (supposedly) not recorded for the 2012 Festival.”

  41. Elizabeth

    {Links. -Eds}


    Arts Festival Dunedin 2014 (via ODT 14.12.14)
    • Acts: 39
    • Performances: 94
    • Gallery shows: 10
    • Audience numbers: About 12,750
    • Budget: About $900,000
    • Surplus: About $10,000
    • 2016 Festival dates: September 30 to October 9


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