Opinion columnist Brian Rudman's piece ("Phil Goff, ratepayers have right to be upset over $150,000 splurge on cultural consultant", NZ Herald, February 26) misses the point and misrepresents Regional Facilities Auckland's investment in developing the Infrastructure Investment Strategy involving all the facilities under its purview.
Rudman's column suggests that Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) has "gone it alone". However, this report is at the heart of the RFA's remit and precisely follows the direction Auckland's Mayor set out in his letter of expectation to the RFA in December 2019 to "develop a clear path for potential future investment".
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RFA, as a CCO (Council-Controlled Organisation), takes an approach which focuses on return on investment and value to the ratepayers and residents of Auckland. It has commissioned a consultancy – widely considered a world authority in this area and with proven understanding of the local market– to produce a comprehensive strategy for investment in Auckland infrastructure.
The Infrastructure Investment Strategy is broad in scope – it encompasses the city's entertainment, events, and cultural infrastructure, including arts facilities and all concert venues.
In the context of a vibrant and diverse city which is changing demographically, ethnically, socially and culturally, RFA has been tasked with identifying the sporting, cultural and arts venues, facilities and events we are most likely to need in the coming decades.
Contrary to Rudman's column, the scope of the Infrastructure Investment Strategy does not overlap with other Auckland Council initiatives or reports. The Stafford Report and Council's Cultural Heritage Sector Review address a very limited of number of publicly funded cultural heritage institutions (Auckland War Memorial Museum, Motat, Stardome, Auckland Art Gallery and New Zealand Maritime Museum), and even then only consider their operations. The Infrastructure Investment Strategy focuses exclusively on capital investment, and across a much wider portfolio of venues.
A strategy of this breadth is necessary if we are to reach our goal of making Auckland a world-class city that is top of the list to host international events that generate visitors to, and revenue for, the city. We can only attract major events such as APEC or artists like Adele if we have premium facilities to host visitors, artists, competitors and teams who require a global standard of service and venue.
It is also critical, given Auckland's demography, that we apply a multicultural lens and integrated global perspective to the use of our facilities.
We cannot manage what is not measured, and we have to ask the right questions to generate the information and conclusions we need to make sound decisions about the cultural, sporting and events facilities owned by Aucklanders.
In a city of approximately 1.6 million people, we cannot afford to be parochial.
Without such research, the city is doomed to keep asking the wrong questions, making the wrong assumptions and drawing the wrong conclusions. Auckland's ageing infrastructure is the result of this wrong-headed approach.
It is disappointing that Rudman did not reach out to the RFA, which has an open-door policy and welcomes debate and discussion on protecting and investing in our facilities to support Auckland as a world-class city to visit and live in.
The Infrastructure Investment Strategy will help identify what's possible, so Aucklanders can have an informed debate about what they want for the future of their city.
• Andrew Barnes is the chair of Regional Facilities Auckland.