Tough time for the­atre

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

The likely de­mo­li­tion of Porirua Lit­tle The­atre is not just a huge blow for the troupe and its fol­low­ers, but the Ti­tahi Bay community. The White­house Rd shops are al­ready in a pretty de­pressed state, so to see the the­atre torn down and most likely not re­placed would be dev­as­tat­ing. Even when the cur­tain is down and the doors are closed, the old army hall is a sym­bol of ac­tiv­ity and old-fash­ioned community spirit.

‘‘Porirua Lit­tle The­atre presents . . . ’’ reads the bill­board out­side the the­atre. Well, it also rep­re­sents the sub­urb’s char­ac­ter and its his­tory.

The Bay community was spared the clo­sure of its li­brary ear­lier this year, but I strug­gle to see a happy end­ing – at least in the short term – for the the­atre.

As we have re­ported this week, rou­tine main­te­nance has un­cov­ered se­vere struc­tural prob­lems in the old army hall. A death sen­tence of de­mo­li­tion is expected, with its owner, Porirua City Coun­cil, not pre­pared to throw good money at a 70-year-old build­ing.

As they say, the show must go on, and the the­atre group will no doubt man­age as grass­roots troupes tend to, mak­ing do the best they can in community halls and schools. But Porirua Lit­tle The­atre will even­tu­ally want a stage to call its own – and there’s lit­tle chance it will be in the near fu­ture or in Ti­tahi Bay.

Porirua Lit­tle The­atre pres­i­dent Sandy Brewer isn’t op­posed to a more cen­tral lo­ca­tion, rekin­dling talk of a pur­pose-built per­form­ing arts venue in Porirua, some­thing the arts community has long been lob­by­ing for.

Un­for­tu­nately, what was look­ing like a promis­ing in­vest­ment part­ner­ship be­tween Porirua City Coun­cil and Whi­tireia went nowhere fast in 2012. The polytech has in­vested its $3 mil­lion con­tri­bu­tion else­where. The coun­cil has since done the same.

The coun­cil has a shared-re­spon­si­bil­ity loan scheme but it favours projects with the widest ap­peal – read: sports crush arts – and joint ap­pli­ca­tions from sim­i­lar groups are pre­ferred. Cer­tainly a venue that ac­counted for the needs of Mana Lit­tle The­atre – which uses Plim­mer­ton Pavilion – and school pro­duc­tions would carry more weight with fund­ing providers.

As for the pub­lic, there hasn’t re­ally been a groundswell for any­thing. Porirua is se­verely lack­ing in arts fa­cil­i­ties but given we are only 15 min­utes up the road from the cul­ture cap­i­tal, do many of us notice it?

I would like to see a the­atre venue in­cluded in re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion plan­ning.

Matthew Dal­las, Ed­i­tor.

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