Aotea performing arts centre a step closer
A performing arts centre for Porirua has taken a huge leap forward, with the city council agreeing to put $1 million towards a facility at Aotea College.
Porirua City Council’s Te Komiti agreed on Thursday to carry out a feasibility study – investigating levels of demand, benefits and timeframes – on a performance arts centre, to be reported back before June 2016.
An investment of $1m has been agreed for the 2017/18 financial year, dependent on community consultation.
In public speaking time before the meeting, Aotea College principal Kate Gainsford said partnerships between central and local government had been difficult terrain to traverse when it came to arts spaces.
‘‘In this case [at the college] there is an opportunity that aligns for both the school and the community.
‘‘There is a master plan under way for the redevelopment of Aotea College and the arts centre is a priority for us. We can make this a community hub.’’
Gainsford said having a multimillion-dollar facility built solely by the school locked shut at night, over the weekend and in school holidays was a waste when there was a need for it.
A redevelopment of the entire college costing tens of millions is planned in coming years.
A report to the council noted there had been discussions in the past 20 years regarding a performing arts centre. It listed five papers commissioned by the council since 1994.
Historical community support for a performing arts centre existed, the report said, and the council had agreed in principle to support the redevelopment of the college’s auditorium, Te Manawa.
Councillors said it was impor- tant to receive the business case from Aotea College before confirming the $1m, but there was widespread backing for linking with Aotea College with the project.
Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said a performing arts centre should happen sooner rather than later. It was an opportunity to set a new standard for Porirua contributing towards a school, and the arts, he said.
‘‘This is the first time something like this has had some meat on the bone and the council should be part of it,’’ he said.
‘‘If we can secure what we need from a community perspective, it’s an exciting chance.
‘‘Aotea College is close to Gear Homestead, the city centre, State Highway 1 and Transmission Gully, and there is accommo- dation nearby.
‘‘It looks like a sensible partnership for the community and our residents.’’
Councillor Ken Douglas said the performing arts issue had been ‘‘a massive disappointment’’ in the past, as previous options were gold-plated.
His colleague, Denys Latham, said a partnership with Aotea College was a no-brainer and he urged the council to move quickly.
Councillor John Burke said this was the best chance to see a performing arts centre established in Porirua in his lifetime.
The council’s $1m contribution will be included in the draft longterm plan, which will go out for public comment shortly.
Coming down: Aotea College’s dated auditorium will be one of the first buildings replaced in a massive makeover of the school.
Logical step: Aotea College principal Kate Gainsford said getting the performing arts centre built at the school made sense for Porirua.