The­atre is right on Q

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Heather McCracken

THE STAGE is set for a new the­atre to open on Queen St within three years.

Q The­atre sup­port­ers are cel­e­brat­ing rais­ing the fi­nal money needed to build the $21 mil­lion flexi-form venue.

The New Zealand Lot­tery Board this month an­nounced a $6m grant, top­ping off more than $14m pledged by the Auck­land City Coun­cil and the ASB Com­mu­nity Trust.

Q The­atre gen­eral man­ager Suzanne Ritzen­hoff says she’s thrilled to fi­nally have construction in sight.

“It’s ex­cit­ing to look at the plans again and see where things are go­ing to go,” she says.

“I’m so looking for­ward to talk­ing to the in­dus­try again and re­ally mak­ing sure that this the­atre re­ally works well.”

An ap­pli­ca­tion for build­ing con­sent will be sub­mit­ted early next year, with work to start later in 2009. Construction is ex­pected to take two years.

Ms Ritzen­hoff says she’s con­fi­dent the money raised will be enough to com­plete the project.

“Given the in­for­ma­tion we have at the mo­ment we can build the the­atre for that amount of money,” she says.

“There might be a lit­tle bit here or there, but ba­si­cally we’ve got all the funds to­gether.”

The com­plex in­cludes a flexi-form venue for the­atre and dance, seat­ing be­tween 350 and 460 peo­ple, and a 100-seat stu­dio space.

Re­hearsal space, a cafe and a bar will also be in­cluded in the 305 Queen St site, next to the town hall.

Ac­tor Ian Hughes says the the­atre will be a boost for emerg­ing artists and com­pa­nies, and a meet­ing place for the in­dus­try.

“It’s not just a room for hire, but a place with the in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port us,” he says.

“Our com­mu­nity needs those sort of en­vi­ron­ments.”

The project has sur­vived a rocky 12 months that saw the coun­cil re­con­sider its con­tri­bu­tion be­cause of cost in­creases of al­most $10m.

Other arts or­gan­i­sa­tions also ques­tioned whether the venue would best meet the needs of the sec­tor.

But a study com­mis­sioned by the coun­cil con­firmed a mid-size flex­i­ble the­atre as the city’s most ur­gent need.

The coun­cil has now upped its con­tri­bu­tion by $400,000 to $9.6m, to help cover changes needed at the town hall.

The ASB Com­mu­nity Trust has given $4.495m in grants be­tween 2005 and 2007.

The re­main­ing money comes from pri­vate donors and trusts.

The $6m grant an­nounced on Novem­ber 7 came from the Lot­tery Sig­nifi Projects Fund.

Lot­tery Grants Board pre­sid­ing mem­ber Rick Barker says the venue will ben­e­fit Auck­land and the rest of New Zealand.

“Q The­atre will be­come a gate­way venue for pro­duc­tions tour­ing New Zealand,” he says.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Ready to go: Work on Q The­atre will start at 305 Queen St next year. Gen­eral man­ager Suzanne Ritzen­hoff cel­e­brates out­side the the site with ac­tors and sup­port­ers, from left: Tainui Tuki­waho, Ian Hughes, James Jen­nings and Jatin­der Singh.

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