Opera House director excited about move

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The Oamaru Opera House’s new director says she is looking forward to coming back to the town where she has “very fond memories”.

Nelson School of Music general manager Frances McElhinney, whose mother grew up in Oamaru, will be taking over Megan Peacock Coyle’s role on December 8.

Mrs McElhinney said she has always had fond memories of Oamaru because she used to spend a lot of time here visiting her grandparents when she was younger.

“I’ve got a few chunks of my heart in Oamaru.

“Over the years it’s been going from strength to strength.”

She is also thrilled to be working in such a “beautiful venue” as the Oamaru Opera House.

“There’s so much work that’s been done to it.

“I’m very excited to work in a premium venue like that.”

The new director hopes to develop the audience as well as the events, including conferences.

“I’m also looking forward to working closely with the community….meet people and find out what they want.”

Mrs McElhinney has been involved in performing arts for most of her life and has spent 24 years in Nelson, with the last eight years at the Nelson School of Music. She has also been the director of the Nelson Jazz & Blues Festival.

“[Performing arts] is something I’m passionate about. It’s just enriching.

“The arts are one of the things that are present in everyone’s life but they’re not always aware of it.”

The director will be heading down to Oamaru in a few weeks before being followed by her husband and cats in February or March next year.

Waitaki District Council community services group manager Thunes Cloete said Mrs McElhinney will be an asset to the town as she is very experienced in venue management and organising community programmes.

“It’s going to be great, she will…put another spin on things.

“It’s a pity we’ve lost Megan but I think Frances will step into the role well.”

By RUBY HARFIELD

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

NEW BEGINNINGS: Frances McElhinney will be starting her role as Oamaru Opera House director on December 8.