Theatre complex

Andromeda will sport a range of professional venues including:
• A 400 seat black box (flexible) theatre which can be alternatively configured as a 200 seat cabaret theatre
• An 80 seat cabaret restaurant with a stage that optionally opens onto the outdoor courtyard for summer performances
• A green room which is mostly used for rehearsing and as a breakout room for conferencing, which can additionally be configured as a 100 seat ad-hoc theatre
• A foyer which can also be used as an alternative performance space Andromeda’s range of stages are designed for Christchurch’s theatre companies, touring theatre companies, and every major festival in Christchurch.
• Potentially, one more cabaret theatre.

Unlike most theatre venues, Andromeda will be hot-bedded and activated as a hospitality and conferencing venue from 6am through until the evening performances, and will continue to stay open after the performances. Not only will this make for a much more vibrant CBD than standard theatre models, but it means Andromeda will have many more serious income streams to make the theatre more self sustaining than standard theatre models.

Theatre Hub

Attached to the public complex, Andromeda will include a number of affordable tenancies and a co-working space, to give many of Christchurch’s theatre companies a tangible home, incubate more collaboration and communication, and help to focus our huge range of professional theatre companies into the CBD.

Our local professional theatre companies are doing great shows all over New Zealand and the world. But Christchurch has never managed to cash in and earn a reputation for being an arts capital. Andromeda will be one small step for Christchurch, and one giant leap for Christchurch’s reputation.

Science-Fiction and Technology Theme

Andromeda will sport a beautiful futuristic design, making it an icon and drawcard to Christchurch. When dining at the restaurant, you might not be sure if you’re in a restaurant or a spaceship, and you might wonder if you’re 50 years in the future.

Like our theatre scene, our technology sector has also flown under Christchurch’s radar despite being the biggest exporter of technology per capita in the Southern Hemisphere. Andromeda’s numerous quirky technology/art installations will also bring international attention to Christchurch as a technology hub.

The theatres themselves will also have futuristic themes which theatre productions and conferences may wish to make use of, but they will also function well in “neutral mode”.

Space cabaret and tourism

The theatre will host a future, space, comedy and technology cabaret with very high production values. This will be a must-do for tourists; it will be marketed heavily internationally, being influential in bringing new visitors to Christchurch and helping to put Christchurch on the map as a must-see destination.

Today, tour buses basically use Christchurch as a place to stay overnight on their way to Queenstown – there are very few “special activities” perceived (even though we have lots of exciting things to do here). Andromeda will be heavily marketed internationally and give tour buses much stronger reason to stay in Christchurch.


During the day, the 400 seat theatre will be a conference venue with natural light. The building is designed for a “quick change” to allow daytime conferencing and nighttime theatre, whereas traditional conferencing venues are usually empty and lifeless at night, and traditional theatres are usually empty and lifeless during the day.

Not only will the conferencing aspect of Andromeda serve to keep the theatre and precinct buzzing during the day and support the complex financially, it will be integral in attracting more conferences to Christchurch through its novel, tech and performing arts themes. Medium sized conferences means hundreds of bed nights for Christchurch – or, in other terms, visitors coming and injecting money into Christchurch’s economy.

Situated beside the Convention Centre, it will not compete, but compliment by providing a range of activities for delegates from the Convention Centre in the evenings, and drawing its own demographic of conference to Christchurch.


With two cabaret spaces, Andromeda will have a heavy focus on hospitality. Therefore it makes sense to go all the way and open the facilities as a cafe for coffee and meetings from 6am during the week, and casual brunch in the weekends (with much live entertainment, of course), and to stay open until late at night for tourists, conference delegates and local night owls who just aren’t ready to go home yet.


Andromeda is a proposed theatre complex that will host a plethora of Christchurch professional theatre, comedy, cabaret and circus companies, be a home to many big and small scale music concerts and will host touring theatre troupes and bands.

The Andromeda theatre complex will be like no other theatre building in the world. Its futuristic space theme will make it an exciting place for locals to visit, and more importantly a must-do for tourists. Its house cabaret featuring groundbreaking technology will be marketed heavily overseas to generate new audiences for the theatre and new tourism in Christchurch.

Andromeda takes all the identified objectives of the Performing Arts Precinct black box theatre and turns it into a commercially sustainable venture that fosters a huge number of theatre and arts companies to make comedy, theatre and music in our CBD whilst bringing significant new money into Christchurch through its tourism branch. Building Andromeda really does seem to be one of the best things Christchurch could do.

Key benefits for the city

In terms of the Performing Arts Precinct, a need for a new black box style theatre for local and touring groups to be able to bump into has already been identified. This theatre fulfills all of those objectives, comes in within budget, and has many, many more advantages for Christchurch.

Christchurch Airport, in conjuction with Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism, the City Council, Canterbury Development Corporation, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment and Tourism New Zealand, developed the Destination 2025 document which identifies as a risk to the Christchurch visitor market “lack of iconic (large scale) attractions/activities – no compelling reason to visit or stay in Christchurch”.

Another risk the document identifies is the likelihood of “trying to rebuild the past rather than embracing the opportunity of what Christchurch could become (new & different)”.

Andromeda will become an anchor in the Christchurch and New Zealand tourism economy, as well as the arts economy.


The Andromeda cabaret will generate audiences of 30,000-50,000 per year, and its conferences will bring an additional 5,000 to 10,000 international delegates per year – most staying for multiple days.

From its new visitors, Andromeda will generate 30,000 to 40,000 additional bed nights per year, injecting approximately $3m to $4m into the hotel industry and that much again into the rest of the hospitality and tourism industry annually.

Andromeda complements the Christchurch Adventure Park well in that its activities are predominantly during the day and Andromeda’s main tourist attraction is predominantly in the evening. Therefore Andromeda visitors are left with a perfect gap in their schedule to spend their money at attractions such as the Adventure Park.

Visitors will also spend money at other Christchurch destinations. During the day, we expect 25,000 of our patrons annually to attend the new adventure park, ride the trams and/or take the Gondola. Theatre-goers are also likely visit the other theatre productions in town. Restaurants and cafés all over the city will benefit from the increased tourist numbers, the value of which is at least tens of millions per year to the Christchurch and New Zealand economy.

Andromeda will be a major player in vitalising Christchurch’s arts culture in a great number of ways.

Making the city buzz
The venue will be in the heart of the city and full of music and theatre not only most nights of the week, but also during the day. Our outdoor stage will also fill the Performing Arts Precinct courtyard with music and theatre all summer long.

Drawing groups and crowds
Andromeda will give a practical theatre home to many types of groups, and pull all sorts of crowds and demographics into the Performing Arts Precinct.

Creating a nucleus
Andromeda’s tenancies and shared working environment will mean theatre companies are more aware of each other’s projects and taking better advantage of opportunities to collaborate.

Making it easier for independent theatre companies to stage a show
Andromeda will specialise in joint ventures – an increasingly popular way that theatres are working with artists to reduce risk to the artist (encouraging more production) and taking advantage of the theatre’s advertising and other production processes to achieve a better result all round.

Growing the number of companies
The nucleus Andromeda will provide, and the culture of theatre creation, will inspire more theatre companies and shows to be born.

Christchurch is currently not known internationally or nationally for its arts culture. However this isn’t because it doesn’t have one – in fact we have an incredible array of professional theatre and music groups creating groundbreaking work. But our groups are scattered across Christchurch with little chance of collaboration, and little chance of audience cross pollination.

Andromeda will be a massive leap forward in terms of getting Christchurch on the map as an arts capital.

Andromeda will employ over 70 staff and many additional contractors. It will also increase demand for employment in the tourism industry in Christchurch. Andromeda’s professional tenants will also be able to thrive and have more employment opportunities within each of their organisations.

The house cabaret will create three full-time lead performance roles and will employ approximately 30-50 actors as both full-time and part-time character wait staff (approximately 20 on each night). It will serve as an excellent part-time job to actors studying at NASDA and recently graduated from NASDA and other New Zealand acting institutes, and the environment will be a relevant one to work in.

The actors who want full-time work will be able to work full-time by spreading their duties between performing, working in the box office, working as wait staff on different themed and non-themed times and working in promotions (e.g. roaming characters throughout the city, brightening the CBD and giving photo opportunities to tourists). Andromeda will run several pop up performances in the area.

Andromeda will provide a permanent performance week-day job for three Christchurch musicians and a live background gig for an additional 20 contract musicians per week.

Andromeda will employ 20 kitchen staff.

Andromeda will employ 10 people in supervisor and duty manager roles.

Andromeda will employ seven people in management and marketing roles.

It is our intent that this complex makes Christchurch a destination for tens of thousands of tourists and conference goers annually. This means international visitors may choose to come to New Zealand or extend their stay in New Zealand for additional nights so they can experience Andromeda. Therefore, we will cause hundreds of additional hotel rooms to be booked each week, helping increase employment in the hotel industry, and increasing attendance at Christchurch tourist attractions and other eateries during the day.

Andromeda is by no means the first tourism attraction in Christchurch/Canterbury, nor is it the first theatre, but will be a very significant addition to the CBD, to Christchurch and to New Zealand’s reputation as an international tourism and arts destination. We hope this is an important part of building a stronger tourism culture and a stronger arts culture in Christchurch and encouraging many other new tourism businesses and arts businesses to begin. Andromeda itself will also sport great tenancies and joint ventures to cultivate new theatre companies beginning.

Andromeda will showcase innovations from Christchurch’s 200+ technology companies. Not only do we plan on hosting technology-based conferences, the showcase surrounding other international conferences, and strategic connections we can form between technology developers and conferences, will put Christchurch’s innovative companies in the forefront of delegates’ minds. Many of the conference delegates will be decision makers and will influence decision makers for large international companies.

Behind the project

The Andromeda project is spearheaded by Michael Bell.

Michael Bell is a Christchurch entrepreneur and businessman. He is also a musician, composer, arranger, and artist of diverse and uncompromising talent. His current roles include being the owner and director of a recording studio and venue called Orange Studios and a touring theatre company called New Zealand Playhouse. The companies have 14 full time staff and are some of the few music and theatre companies in New Zealand that operate sustainably from ticket income.

Jan 2006

Orange Studios

Orange Studios has been in business for twelve years having moved several times due to growth and the Canterbury earthquakes. The business has progressed to premises in Ferrymead that has been purpose built for sound acoustics, live audience performances, video production and administration.

It is built in five detached structures to hold up to 50 people at once doing five separate activities (not unlike how Andromeda will operate). Orange Studios offers a range of diverse services such as studio and live recording, a licensed bar, video production, printing, Live @ Orange concert series, comedy panel shows, rehearsals, seminars and meeting spaces and is in use by several clients per day most days of the week.

Mar 2009

New Zealand Playhouse

New Zealand Playhouse (and its subsidiary, Australia Playhouse) currently perform over 800 shows per year to students across New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand Playhouse is a touring theatre company that travels from school to school performing either a primary school age show or a secondary school age show. Attention to detail and quality is paramount with its scriptwriters, creative developers, cast, costume, set, music, service and operational procedures. The tour performs terms 1-4 each year with repeat bookings (86%) being the basis of the next year’s schedule.

Mar 2014


Andromeda has been in the pipeline since 2011. Orange Studios was first rebuilt as a “pilot”, reopening in 2014. Once that was running smoothly, thorough research and development for Andromeda began in early 2015.


Both businesses are multifaceted and require attention to detail, quick decision making, staff management and high energy.

Michael has a passion for making art that is first-class without cutting corners, for making art accessible and real for audiences ensuring it’s widely received and enjoyed, and a passion for making things work. Michael built both these businesses up from scratch to be commercially and financially viable – and this was through the Christchurch earthquake period. Michael will ensure the talent and performance aspects of the business are awe inspiring and unparallelled, that the business is one of variety and welcomes all sectors of the international and domestic market, and that problems are solved promptly and appropriately so a seamless service is given.

Michael’s attention to detail is not just in his art, but also in the systems he puts in place. He uses a TQM management style and is always looking to refine and improve his levels of service and delivery. He is a systems oriented person who has procedures and guidelines in place to ensure the business can continue even in his absence. He is flexible, can adapt to any situation and thinks strategically.

Michael is a personable man who gathers around him a dedicated team who wholly buy into his vision. If anyone can make this dramatic concept work, it is Michael. His concept fills a need in the Christchurch market, will contribute to tourism for NZ and plays to all his artistic talents and business strengths.


In the Performing Arts Precinct, by the new Crowne Plaza.

Actually, we’ve been doing that for a few years now. The market research has been commissioned and completed, quantity survey commissioned and completed, key stakeholders consulted and the full business proposal has been through a number of iterations. The concept is ready to go, right now.

Absolutely. We’ve been in the theatre business for a long time as producers, and also in the venue business out at Orange for a number of years. We know the trials and tribulations on both sides. At Orange, we’ve tried a number of ways of making venue hireage (and other costs) viable for artists, and have seen how other venues make things viable for artists (and also what not to do), so we’re pretty experienced there. To be specific, artists will have an option to perform in the cabaret style where we will offset the venue hire costs with food and drink sales. Furthermore, we will take on a number of joint ventures each year in which the theatres will underwrite all or most of the venue costs and some advertising costs, and take a percentage rather than a hire fee – this model is getting more and more popular around the world and encourages a lot more artists who may not have capital to take bigger risks to put on excellent work.

With good systems. Michael is well versed in running multiple companies at once with staff spread across Australasia and a venue that is usually open for 16 hours a day. The staff structure and systems will be very much like that of a hotel (who are open 24 hours, 7 days a week) but with a theatre-based spirit.

Distinct managers have been budgeted to oversee each strand of the business: Theatre and festival bookings and stage management, hospitality, advertising, technical, conferencing and weddings, the house cabaret production, kitchen, and ticketing and merchandise.

We have begun taking a register of interest. There may be a small amount of money left to raise but this will be confirmed following negotiations with the Christchurch City Council and the structure being finalised. For now, please feel free to email to register your interest.

We will have a strong focus on professional, world class theatre and music, performed by local and visiting professional artists, which local patrons and visitors to the city are wowed by. However, we anticipate a number of community and school groups using the space for both big and small productions too.

The cost of building this facility is $18.9 million. Following negotiations with the City Council and discussions on additional possibilities, we will know how much is left to raise.

Quite the contrary. We promise we will make the theatre beautiful and exciting for both lovers of sci-fi and those who are apathetic or against the genre. The interior spaces will be very flexible and will suit a big range of productions (but artists may wish to create work utilising the sci-fi aspects of the building). The Civic Theatre in Auckland is a great example of a heavily cultured building being a strength and not detracting from any sort of production.

Andromeda’s space theme will help make Christchurch an exciting tourist destination, attracting many people into our city, and into the Andromeda Theatre.

Furthermore, Christchurch is the biggest exporter of technology per capita in the Southern Hemisphere (often dubbed the “Silicon Plains”), and most locals aren’t even aware. Having such a technology based theatre will help to draw attention to not just our arts industry, but our technology industry, for locals, tourists and international conference delegates who will often be key influencers in technology purchasing and commission decisions.

In summary, the space theme will be
• Beautiful and tasteful
• Flexible
• Original and exciting
• Achieve excellent economic outcomes for Christchurch tourism
• Showcase Christchurch’s large technology industry.

No. We will perform a very different function. Our role in the arts community will be very much that of Q Theatre or the Basement Theatre in Auckland, or Bats Theatre in Wellington. Also, we will help new festivals birth, filling all the local venues with more performance.

  • The Piano is a concert style reverberant hall, flanked by studios for music teachers and small recital rooms used for events such as music examinations. Our tenancies will run in a very different style and we anticipate very few people comparing quotes for venue hire between The Piano and Andromeda – our theatre will have a flexible acoustic suited to comedy, cabaret, drama, jazz and pop/rock.
  • The Theatre Royal is a 1300 seater large proscenium arch theatre suitable for big productions and big names. Our 200-400 seater auditorium will host a very different style of event. There may be a small amount of minor crossover between the Theatre Royal’s Gloucester Room and our flexible Green Room.
  • The Court Theatre (not yet in the precinct) has an existing patron base, and will run its own productions year-round. Their theatres are not available to other companies to move in and use, therefore they do not need to worry about losing potential theatre hireage. Also distinct from the Court, our own house show will be a cabaret and we will have a heavy focus on bringing new audiences into Christchurch.
  • Free Theatre is also nearby, focusing on experimental theatre and their venue is available to hire. However, like the Court, most productions are their own and, like the ITR Gloucester Room, their venue seats approximately 100. Our Green Room (closest in style) will be very different to the Free Theatre’s space (it will be more ad-hoc) and the Gloucester Room space so any artist comparing options will likely be choosing based on style and availability. Our Green Room will be used predominantly for rehearsal and as a breakout room for conferencing.
  • Andromeda will complement all of these other Performing Arts Precinct (and nearby) tenants by generating new foot traffic to the precinct, incubating new festivals, and bringing new theatre-loving patrons into the city.

We know that feeling as well as anybody. First off, Andromeda will rent the space from the council, and the theatre is big so the rent will be significant. We can make the money work, but it won’t be a free ride by any means. Secondly, we’re regular attenders at lots of awesome private venues around Christchurch. An excellent arts scene doesn’t come from just one theatre or group alone, so we are all about being part of creating an amazing and vibrant arts scene across the city – and being a good team player with the other arts and hospitality venues.



From the media?
Please don't hesitate to get in touch for a press kit.

Contact us

021 223 6693