Cost Cutting: Toi Poneke

Following on from the story about potential cuts to library hours, another of the council’s cultural institutions seems to be under threat. Toi Poneke is a gallery and also contains more than 30 studio spaces which are rented out to emerging artists.

Increases of between 7.5 and 15 per cent for room rentals to artists and art organisations were suggested as a way of generating extra annual income of $17,000 for the council.

But council briefing papers obtained by The Dominion Post reveal the move would come with the risk of losing tenants from Toi Poneke and a subsequent loss of revenue.

Oh really? So increasing rents would only generate $17,000 in extra revenue, and it might likely price itself out of the very limited market it occupies. Unlike the proposal to limit library opening hours, there simply doesn’t seem to be enough financial benefit to even consider this idea.

To his credit, councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer seems to be front footing this, and doing  a far better job of it than Stephanie Cook…

The council’s arts portfolio leader, Ray Ahipene-Mercer, said all council costs “are under the microscope” and there will be winners and losers when spending cuts and fee increases are debated by councillors next year.

“But I would need some significant convincing for cost-cutting to any of the arts portfolio. I certainly haven’t been convinced yet.

“It does feed into our reputation as the arts capital, which is important to the city.”

Another interesting point to note is that both proposals that have been leaked so far have been in the cultural services area. I don’t doubt that there are many other ideas floating around to reduce the council’s expenditure, but I’d be very interested to know what they are…

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