Regional theatre project tracking well
Creating a concept design and finding the best location for the new Waikato Regional Theatre is tracking extremely well, says Momentum Waikato.
The community foundation has joined Hamilton City Council to fund the work to recommend the best options to replace the aging Founders Theatre, closed last year due to safety concerns.
Momentum Waikato was approached last year by people and organisations interested in have the foundation contribute to a new theatre. It will convene $25 million of donor funds, contingent on Hamilton City Council underwriting $30 million towards the build. City Council will be seeking funding from central, regional and other Waikato local councils to contribute towards their portion of funding.
Momentum Waikato chairman Leonard Gardner says a true public-private partnership has been created to deliver a great community outcome.
Momentum Waikato and the Council have each secured $100,000 and appointed the independent Waikato Regional Theatre Governance Panel to manage a robust process to determine optimum theatre configuration, design, location and the range of expected community benefits. It engaged international theatre design consultancy Charcoalblue to carry out the work.
Charcoalblue has talked with stakeholders and user groups throughout the region and investigated locations around the city owned by the Council or by private landowners to recommend concept and location to go to public consultation in August.
Mr Gardner says Charcoalblue is also working with architects, engineers and arts advisers to create the recommendation for the master plan, cost estimate and build-plan for a new theatre. “This is an incredibly robust process and Charcoalblue has been very thorough in their discussions and investigations to this point, including analysing many years of use of Founders’ Theatre and discussing ways to encourage participation in the arts through to comparative analyses of theatres and venues in other New Zealand cities.”
The Waikato Regional Theatre needs to have a positive impact on the lives of all, complement and enhance the urban fabric of Hamilton and also be adaptable for future generations, he says.
“Charcoalblue’s work has made some key conclusions including that the theatre must bridge an audience gap currently created between Claudelands, Meteor Theatre and Clarence St Theatre. ‘The wider picture is for the theatre to have a positive impact on the wider creative sector in the Waikato. We are looking for this to be achieved in two ways: by firstly choosing a location that can help develop a creative precinct, and secondly through education— seeking to engage with the secondary schools throughout the Waikato to inspire our young people into the creative industries,” he says.
“This is a generational opportunity to create a significant community asset for our region, and, for the sake of the future generations, we need to make sure we do it well,” Mr Gardner says.
“The Waikato Regional Theatre is a hugely important project for a growing region. We’ve been heartened by the progress made so far, and by the support already being received from the public, donors and local councils.
“Momentum Waikato will be making it easy to be generous and support the theatre project.”