Tough time for theatre
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.