Snexit: An Ode to Sam Snedden

That fateful day has arrived, when the bald-headed eagle of The Basement nest is ready to fly onwards to a new tree. Our Business Development Manager, and the person responsible for the intense political turn our twitter has taken recently, will be leaving our team at the end of 2017.

Sam left a job as a chef in 2011 to join The Basement as its very first Technical Manager alongside Charlie and Sophie. He didn’t know a thing about Fresnel bulbs or sound desks, but he was willing to give it a go. From then on he’s pretty much done about every job you could do at Basement - from working the bar, sweeping the front steps, overseeing renovations and fire upgrades, blurb-ologing our marketing, to directing the Christmas Show.

Oh, and he has pretty much written every funding application in Basement history - from the first Kahikatea application that allowed us to offer artists risk-share venue hire, to our recent promotion to a Totara funded organisation, giving us national leadership status.

Thanks for that Sam, I guess we owe you one. (By that we mean Auckland’s independent performing arts sector owes you, they said they’d buy you a drink on Friday).

Although he’s been a somewhat useful team member, we’ll remember Sam for a lot more than that. Basement has always been more than a job to Sam, he has been truly dedicated to supporting emerging artists to find their feet in our industry, often showing a generosity well beyond the call of duty. He would never hesitate to give his time (or his car) to an artist in need, and has been a mentor and source of strength for many in our community.

Sam has been a mentor and source of strength for many in our community

On a personal level, Sam has always been an incredibly empathetic ear or shoulder for anyone he knows is going through a hard time, and a crusader that you can rely on to get fired up any time an injustice has occurred.

Sam has seen over 600 shows come through our doors, and seen the Basement team grow from three to thirty. But of all these memories, none beats the story of the Poo-cano, which Sam reminisces about on pretty much a weekly basis. (We will leave him the pleasure of telling you about that one...).

Sam leaves us to make a full-time commitment to his artistic practice as an actor and a director. But like the eagle, we know he will forever be site-bonded to his first true home at The Basement, perhaps returning during the annual breeding period in Nov - Dec, (we made this running factoid-based metaphor just for you Sneds).

For real though, you will always be part of our community. We love you and will miss your puns, historical anecdotes, and political rants forever more!

Xxxx Your Basement whanau

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“It’s a simple fact that without Sam, The Basement would not be what it is today. Sam is a one-of-a-kind human - adept, rigorous, passionate and with a deep care for the betterment of an industry. What I respect most about Sam is the never ending quest to be better, to not accept mediocrity, to always strive for more and move from good to great. I've loved the laughs, the tears, the fights, the high-fives and everything in between. Here’s to the end of an era and the beginning of another.”
Charlie McDermott
(Basement Theatre Founder and former General Manager)

"During my first show in the Basement Theatre mainspace, we smoked herbal cigarettes in the theatre. I was warned by Sam if they set off the smoke alarms that I would be paying the $1,500 call out fee. It was stern, but said with some amount of love. I was like, "Yeah sweet I'll pay that" while being privately terrified about it but didn't want to show any weakness. Thankfully, our herbal cigarettes did not set off the smoke alarms, they just stunk out the theatre. Even more thankfully, my potential friendship with Sam Snedden was not ruined. There's not a single person in the Auckland theatre scene more passionate about lifting up other people's voices than Sam Snedden. There's nobody more interested in learning what other people have to say and genuinely taking those words to heart. There's nobody more amped up when he sees a great show and disappointed when he sees a bad show. He's the kind dad of Auckland theatre, and it's time for that dad to have his mid-life crisis, but I know he'll still love us, want the best for us, and keep listening to our concerns and our problems even when he's bought the new convertible and gotten a toupee. Jokes. Sam Snedden is never buying a toupee."
Sam Brooks
(Longtime Basement artist)

There's not a single person in the Auckland theatre scene more passionate about lifting up other people's voices than Sam Snedden.

It is hard to imagine anyone more passionate about the arts and artists than Sam. In fact, Sam is passionate about a lot of things. We have just been very lucky that The Basement has always been high on his list. It has been clear for a long time that beneath that tall and follicularly challenged exterior there has been a talented performer desperate to escape. Now is Sam's time to crawl out and fly closer to the sun. We will continue to watch proudly. Matt Kenealy
(Basement Trust Board Chair)

I have known Samuel Snedden since he was an emerging bald eagle. Becoming an actor, becoming a Dad, becoming the passionate, occassionally angsty, talented, honest , generous and vital member of our Auckland performing arts community that he is today. Sam’s hefty contribution to The Basement must be recognised as immense and fundamental. Charlie had the original vision and, along with Michelle, Sophie and many others, got The Basement on it’s feet and walking, clambering, running forward in exciting, if occassionally ungainly, fashion. Sam (and Elise of course) have picked that adolescent up, trained it, given it systems, support, and recently, wings so that it is damn near flying. We on the board have loved seeing not only The Basement flourish, but also seeing Sam flourish – as an administrator, as a leader and as an artist. We are so very sad to see him go, but so very excited for him that this bald eagle can now soar as the terrific creative artist he is. He will always be a part of The Basement and the experience of running the glorious institution that The Basement is, will always inform the things he does in the future. Go well and Thank you dear Sam.
Michele Hine
(Basement Board Trustee)

Old mate Sam Sned, you have been the beating heart of the basement for so long. Look at what you have made. No one really knows how much you have given to make Basement what it is today. You were instrumental in making the place riskshare, you nearly went mental with every renovation and in the good old days you made sure we never got shut down. Sam couldn't help himself working days and nights and weekends, he had an obsessive commitment because he cared deeply about basement being the best it could be. Sam wrote every funding proposal, filed for every liquor license and handpicked every staff member. He also made a lot of rules to keep everyone safe, before Sam arrived Basement was pretty loose. So if sam ever told you off, it was probably to prevent you dying. Sam put his whole self into setting up Basement and supporting its community. The place is all grown up now and that's mostly thanks to him xx

Sophie Henderson (Former Basement Artist and Programming Manager)