As the Bruce Mason Centre celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first performance next month, Channel Magazine interviewed Centre Manager Terence Harpur for his take on the place of the Bruce Mason Centre on the North Shore, in the arts world – and in his life.
The official opening on 6th August 1996, by Governor General Sir Michael Hardie Boys, included a performance of Bruce Mason’s ‘End of the Golden Weather’ and marked not only the arrival of a significant addition to the North Shore’s arts infrastructure but also the end of 12 years of lobbying, planning and fundraising by a dedicated group of North Shore identities. Initially run by the North Shore Theatre and Conference Centre Trust and later a Board of Management, “The Bruce” is now part of Auckland Council’s network of regional and central city venues, run by Auckland Live.
Terence Harpur, current Centre manager, is a lifelong and passionate Shoreite, not to mention being passionate about the Bruce Mason Centre itself. “I’ve put blood and sweat into this place,” he says. “What inspires me is patrons enjoying themselves at an event; the excitement and moment of connection between the patrons and the performers, and people having fun.”
The Bruce Mason Centre (named for the North Shore playwright whose ‘End of the Golden Weather’ immortalised a 1930s Takapuna childhood) is that unusual beast – a 1000 seat venue, attractive to commercial promoters, but not too big for community groups and performances. “You get an amazing connection between patrons and the performers,” says Terence. “There are great sightlines and you get a great atmosphere. It’s fantastic for dance, children’s shows, New Zealand musical theatre….”