Part B: Our work in detail

Oranga ahurea
Cultural wellbeing

We want Wellington to remain the cultural capital of New Zealand.



We provide opportunities to develop the city’s cultural scene to build engaged and curious communities. We provide support for galleries and museums, community arts and cultural events, and arts partnerships. We develop and deliver several city events, and support community events.

We’re investing in arts and culture to maintain our position nationally and internationally as a vibrant, edgy capital.

In this section

This section includes what’s changing since we released Our 10-Year Plan, other key projects coming up, key performance measures and what it costs. There is one group of activities in this section:

4.1 Arts and cultural activities.


Snapshot. 725,000 visits to our museums and galleries per year (excluding Te Papa). 1.5 million visits to Te Papa per year. 93% of Wellingtonians agree that Wellington has a rich and culturally diverse arts scene. 82% attendee satisfaction with Council-supported events. $25.1 million the NZ Festival’s estimated contribution to Wellington’s economy.

What we do – an overviewTop

What’s changing and whyTop

St James: For more than a century, the St James Theatre has played an important role in the social and cultural lives of Wellingtonians as a leading venue for theatre, film, music and ballet. Seismic strengthening is required to bring this theatre up to a minimum of 67 percent of the New Building Standard (NBS). The long-term plan budget of $14.9 million for the strengthening of the St James Theatre was based on a concept design, which was developed prior to the building being available for extensive investigation. An intensive building survey and detailed structural design revealed more complex seismic strengthening would be required at an additional $8.1 million. A further $8.6 million is also proposed to complete the recommended building and theatre system upgrades during the closure of the theatre. The funding required to complete the project is now expected to be $31.3 million over the next three years.

Town Hall: Wellington’s Town Hall has significant value as a focal point for cultural, democratic, social and community activities. Through the 2018-28 Long-Term Plan the Council approved a budget of $97.4 million to strengthen and refurbish the building, following its closure after the Seddon Earthquake in 2013. The approval was linked to the granting of a long-term lease to the NZ Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) and Victoria University School of Music (VUW) for the creation of a music hub. Since the approval in Our 10-Year Plan further testing, investigation, and design work along with the tendering process has occurred. We now have a better understanding of the extent and likely cost of the works required to strengthen and restore the Town Hall.

The revised cost for the Town Hall project is $112.4 million, excluding contingency. Construction is due to start mid-2019 and take four years to complete. The costs have increased as the structural and ground conditions make it a highly complex project. The highly competitive construction market has also impacted on the project costs.

The Council will retain 40 percent of the total occupancy of the Town Hall, with NZSO and VUW sharing access to the remaining 60 percent, which includes the music hub with three shared performance spaces. This partnership will enhance the city’s reputation as a vibrant centre for the arts, while also bringing in rental revenue. The design will restore public access to Town Hall facilities through events, public Council meetings and pedestrian access between Wakefield Street and Civic Square.

Our work programme 2019/20Top

Aho-Tini: In collaboration with WellingtonNZ (WREDA) and arts and culture stakeholders, we are making a strategic commitment to work together to realise the creative potential in the city. The Aho Tini concept was launched in June 2019, and Council will follow through with its commitment to enhancing the arts with our partners.

Investment in the arts: We will continue our investment in professional and community arts and cultural projects via three-year funding contracts for established organisations and support for one-off projects. Support for high-quality new local theatre and dance works will be offered via the Arts and Culture Fund.

What it costsTop

2019/20 Annual Plan $000
Operating expenditure 22,595
Capital expenditure 16,9412

Measuring our performanceTop

We use performance measures to track how well we are delivering services against targets. The following represents the groups of measures we have for each group of activities. For details of individual performance measures and targets, see Detailed performance information in Part D: Appendices.

We also have outcome indicators to monitor progress toward desired results for the city. These indicators are at least partly out of our control. For these indicators, please refer to Our 10-Year Plan on our website,

Rationale What we measure Activities
4.1 Arts and cultural activities
  • For city vibrancy and cultural expression.
  • To build and maintain a sense of place and identity.
  • To grow visitor numbers and exposure to creativity and innovation.
  • High quality events.
  • Arts and cultural sector support.
  • Funding success.
  • CCO – Wellington Museums Trust performance (5 measures).
  • 4.1.1 City galleries and museums (Wellington Museums Trust).
  • 4.1.2 Visitor attractions (Te Papa / Carter Observatory).
  • 4.1.3 Arts and cultural festivals.
  • 4.1.4 Cultural grants.
  • 4.1.5 Access and support for community arts.
  • 4.1.6 Arts partnerships.
  • 4.1.7 Regional amenities fund.

2This includes capital expenditure for the convention and exhibition centre which is discussed in the economic development chapter.