Embracing community: Isaac Theatre Royal

The Christchurch arts industry is evolving in leaps and bounds. Entering a new era is the iconic Isaac Theatre Royal.

Arenowned venue steeped in history and grandeur, the locally-loved building on 145 Gloucester St is undergoing a transformative shift. No longer merely a space for hire, it is poised to become
a vibrant hub of community engagement and exciting cultural celebrations.

Anna Lee School of Dance

Launching its new Community Programme marks a pivotal moment for the theatre. Over the next three years, the team will focus on fostering cultural competency, rooted in principles like manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, and kotahitanga, to truly reflect and celebrate the community’s diversity.

Greg Ward, CEO of the Isaac Theatre Royal, reflects on this new initiative. “We are thrilled to embark on this journey towards a more inclusive and community-focused future. Our goal is to break down barriers and ensure that the theatre is accessible and welcoming to all members of our community.”

Central to the programme is the commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Through collaborations with local organisations and schools, financial barriers to access the theatre will be dismantled, ensuring that programming caters to the varied interests and backgrounds of the community.

Canvas Bag School Holiday Drama Workshop

Partnerships with mana whenua and other cultural sectors seek to enrich the theatre’s offerings, providing a diverse program that resonates deeply with communities. Educational outreach, such as the ‘Theatre in Schools’ program, will provide young audiences with access to hig h-quality professional theatre experiences, aligning with NCEA standards to enhance learning outcomes.

Greg Ward, CEO

“Our aim is to foster a sense of belonging and inspire engagement with the arts among all members of the Canterbury community,” says Ward. “The Isaac Theatre Royal is not just a venue, it is a cultural cornerstone that thrives on community participation and enrichment.”

The Isaac Theatre Royal’s evolution underscores its dedication to embracing the diverse tapestry of Canterbury’s cultural landscape, serving as a vital space for entertainment, learning, and community development.

Main image: 360 ALLSTARS. Image by Matt Loncar


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