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New Performing Arts Centre opens its doors

Wednesday 25 March 2020 11:21am

Take a fly-through to see what our fantastic new Music, Theatre and Performing Arts Centre will look like from the inside out and read about its wonderful new facilities, made possible in-part by generous donations from alumni and friends. Then catch up on how one of our award-winning music graduates, conductor Holly Mathieson, is taking music to everyone, everywhere.


Work started on the $26 million Performing Arts project in 2018, and the new studios have been in operation since semester one this year.

As well as constructing a new two-storey recording studio building, the project includes refurbishing the nearby University of Otago College of Education’s music suite, teaching wing, tower block and part of the Education Resource Centre. The new building was completed in early March, with the renovation of the College taking until late April.

The new facility creates a modern, permanent base for most of the Department of Music, Theatre and Performing Arts Te Kāhui Tau's staff, students and activities, as well as flexible spaces capable of hosting a variety of events.

The recording building provides state-of-the-art multi-use recording and performance spaces for Otago students and the local Dunedin community. It includes a space with seating for 100 people, two control rooms, recording booths and practice rooms.


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“The new facility will be a hub that enhances the arts and music scene on campus, and in Dunedin. It feeds into our contemporary music programme, our music technology programme, our bachelor of performing arts, as well as theatre and dance,” says Head of the School of Performing Arts Professor Anthony Ritchie.

“We want to involve the community as well, at times when our students and staff are not using the facility we will be welcoming school groups and community groups to use the spaces, as well as professional hires for recording and rehearsal.”

The new studios are equipped for recording everything from contemporary bands and small orchestras to solos, and for teaching contemporary and rock music performance. High schools will be invited to use the rooms, and they will also be available for commercial use.


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Director of Development and Alumni Relations Shelagh Murray says “we believe our new Performing Arts Centre will bring many benefits and national and international visitors to the University and to Dunedin, helping Otago to continue to provide unique and internationally-recognised programmes and increasing our reputation in providing contemporary music performance and studio production programmes.”

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Holly Mathieson
Photo courtesy of Martin Stewart, 2018

Songbirds of New Zealand has been chosen as the theme for the new centre – each room will represent a different bird and be painted a different shade of green.

One of the University’s special 150th anniversary fundraising projects, the new centre received a generous donation of $500,000 from Otago Community Trust. You can still help support this exciting new performing arts facility and its future programming with a donation. All gifts make a difference.

Taking music to refugees, mountain tops and the Royal Family

Read the recent Q&A with our award-winning music graduate Holly Mathieson on taking music to refugees, mountain tops and the Royal Family