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Altiora Brings Circus Back to The Arts Centre

image Danny Lee Syme

Altiora brings circus back to The Arts Centre

Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre is reviving its long-standing association with circus arts, partnering with an exciting new tenant in the former gymnasium.

Cirko Kali is running the space as Altiora – a venue for alternative cross-genre performing arts, such as cabaret, burlesque, and circus. The name, Altiora, comes from the inscription in stone above the main entrance urging students to Seek Higher Things.

The plan is run a monthly cabaret to complement the workshops, training sessions and other performances throughout the week. Tickets for all events are available at Humanitix.

Altiora officially opens Friday October 13th at 9pm with a show entitled “Carnival Alley”.

Director Danny Lee Syme has devoted the past six months testing creative uses of this space, as well as fitting it out to be suitable for professional physical theatre performances.

He says Altiora programming will delight in the eclectic. During the school holidays, circus classes see groups ranging from 6-year-olds to adults learning aerial, acrobatics, juggling and clowning skills, while there will also be Tai Chi classes.

“Altiora is an affordable dedicated accessible public venue and permanent home for circus, physical theatre and performers in Ōtautahi, bringing comedy, cabaret, drag, circus, burlesque, indie music and dance to new and diverse audiences, as well as a venue for education, development, practice, experimentation and teacher training. The benefits will be hauora (wellbeing), capability development, access (for people with disabilities), and audience development.”

Mr Syme says it has been important to ensure the heritage fabric of the building is protected. As well as installing new stage lighting, sound system and rigging equipment, a protective floor has been laid over the original varnished wooden floor, which still bears remnants of tape marking court boundaries and shooting circles from decades ago.

Altiora has been made possible with support from the Cultural Sector Regeneration Fund of Manatū Taonga Ministry of Culture and Heritage, with a goal to increase access and participation in arts, culture and heritage, as well as supporting greater use of the arts as a tool to increase wellbeing.

This unique space is also available for private hire. Find out more by contacting bookings@altiora.nz.

The Gymnasium was designed and built in 1908 in Gothic Revival style for Christchurch Boys’ High School, and then passed to Canterbury College (now the University of Canterbury) until the university moved to Ilam. As part of The Arts Centre, the building was home to Academy Cinemas until the 2011 earthquakes closed the site. After restoration, it was occupied by Christchurch Free Theatre and then Bread and Circus World Buskers Festival.


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