Creative New Zealand under Stephen Wainwright finally succeeds in destroying Downstage after nearly 50 years trying

This is a picture of Stephen Wainwright, Chief Executive (Pou Whakahaere) of Creative New Zealand. Here is his statement:

“As a young nation at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean our arts help to illustrate our lives with new layers of meaning and fresh perspectives… life is personal and experiencing great art makes life better.”


He probably does not know what he is doing because he is at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Why would Creative New Zealand destroy Downstage? This is really the topic of my doctoral research. Along the way I will be interested in and my research will intersect with the stories that we as New Zealanders tell ourselves and others. Here are a few:

  1. to tell our own stories in our own words is a cultural and artistic objective;
  2. New Zealand is a young nation;
  3. losing things like your memory is probably beneficial in the long term – if you were meant to keep your memory you’d remember;
  4. loss – like Downstage closing – is natural and inevitable;
  5. from the kind of loss that is inevitable comes the new – this is how nature works;
  6. the principle of competition is also natural;
  7. sport and business and art are all natural activities in so far as they are competitive;
  8. politics is an exception to competition, because it is based on PR, therefore opportunism, expediency and lies;
  9. you pour water into a cracked vessel because you too are a cracked vessel – a cracked vessel does not constitute a threat;
  10. one day New Zealand will finally be able to take its place on the world stage;
  11. you can only contribute to society by success;
  12. wearing a red poppy on Armistice Day (11 November) is part of our national identity – not to promote tall poppy syndrome, or its effects.

Of course, Wellington City Council ought also to be held accountable for the closure of Downstage as a crime against the city. Auckland City Council is accountable for the desuetude of the St. James, which is equally a crime against the city. Although the loss of Downstage is the greater as much for the lies about it being inevitable, necessary, a product of the times as for the fact that theatre was still being made there.

Do their mouths taste of ashes, those who look forward to a phoenix? Do they destroy just to be able to say that out of the ruins something new will come? What is this resurrectionist nightmare?