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Dunedin Crowdfunds New Music Venue

A new worker-owned music venue in Dunedin surpassed its crowdfunding goal of $10,000 over the weekend, but community leaders fear its fate.


The Ōtepoti Possibilities Cooperative (ŌPCo) collective are already painting and fitting out the space for Yours. Courtesy of their Instagram.

A new worker-owned café/music venue in Dunedin surpassed its crowdfunding goal of $10,000 over the weekend, enabling it to open doors on Moray Place in December.

Carl Naus created the campaign for Yours on behalf of the Ōtepoti Possibilities Cooperative (ŌPCo) and said the group is “really stoked with the support and enthusiasm people have shown towards the project,” which had 122 backers and raised $10,936.23 before closing this afternoon.

The $10k fundraising goal is a small portion of the $25–30k budget the group has allocated for the initial setup and fitout of the venue, which the Kickstarter campaign promised would provide “space for radical action, music, art and cooperation”.

The growing to-do list posted on the walls of the venue was featured on the Kickstarter campaign.

Naus says the group is aiming for Yours to be “a place where you can get a coffee at 5pm and a meal at 9pm”—which both tend to be fantasies beyond the pale for food establishments in Dunedin. They are not seeking an alcohol licence, making the gig space more inclusive for people “who don’t want to be around that or are not 18”.

Yours is addressing a much-needed gap for music venues in Dunedin, which has seen increasing difficulties regarding spaces for artists and musicians to perform. In May 2019, None Gallery, a warehouse performance and living space, was sold to developers and its tenants were evicted. Artists DIY spaces such as Jutland Street and The Attic have also shuttered. Starters Bar closed last September.

Spaceland founder Jenny Duncan is supportive and “grateful” about the prospect of a new venue.

“I think it’s really exciting, because the Dunedin music scene is still vibrant in energy, and I’m really tired of going to the Crown,” she said.

“Even though it’s one of the best venues in the country with the best hospitality, you start to feel like it’s Groundhog Day: the Crown again.”

In recent months, Dunedin’s longest-running music venue, the Crown Hotel, has become the cornerstone of a rising community initiative to lobby for legislation that does more to protect its live music scene. In July, the Dunedin City Council approved the construction of a mixed-use building in the empty block next to The Crown. The development project includes apartments, creating fears that future noise complaints would ultimately close the pub, which has fostered up-and-coming musicians since 1989.

The grassroots group Save Dunedin Live Music organised a well-publicised protest rally in the Octagon in August. Afterwards, the Dunedin City Council acknowledged the public outcry, promising to review the policies around inner-city noise within the district plan—which currently allows developers to build apartments with minimal insulation near music venues—as well as develop a live music action plan with SDLM.

However, those plans are still in development, and Save Dunedin Live Music spokesperson Dave Bennett is concerned that Yours could run into similar issues. The owners of the venue Bark, which is next door to Yours, experienced a long struggle with neighbours over noise control, and they have put their business up for sale in the last few weeks.

“So, it is an ongoing issue and one that is quite a dire situation in Dunedin.”

Naus is optimistic that Yours will have a different fate than Bark, citing the air gaps on either side of the building, the stage area being underground, plans for insulation, and making the neighbours “feel like they’re included”. “I’m confident we can find a way that doesn’t piss anyone off, too much, hopefully.”

The building on Moray Place that will house Yours was previously used as an Asian restaurant. Source: Kickstarter.

Save Our Venues representative Taylor MacGregor travelled to Dunedin for a community discussion in early November and warns that the troubles plaguing Dunedin are indicative of a wider national crisis.

“Urban densification is going on, and there is no planning protection for venues to give them the right to make the sound they need to,” MacGregor said. “There’s a very high possibility that as the system currently works, [venues] risk being closed by a new neighbour.”

Opening week at Yours is scheduled for December 10th–17th, during which Naus says fundraising will continue for their two ongoing costs: “ingredients and humans”.

The Ōtepoti Possibilities Cooperative (ŌPCo) are preparing for their opening week at Yours December 10–17. Courtesy of their Instagram.