Theatre group’s bold step

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

‘‘It was a bit of a hail Mary, but what have we got to lose?’’

That was Porirua Lit­tle Theatre pres­i­dent Sandy Brewer’s re­sponse last Thurs­day af­ter Porirua City Coun­cil’s Te Komiti signed off the theatre’s pro­posal to take own­er­ship and re­pair the Marines Hall in Ti­tahi Bay.

A $82,500 grant from the coun­cil, a $165,000 loan from the coun­cil – via the Shared Re­spon­si­bil­ity Scheme – and $ 82,500 from Porirua Lit­tle Theatre will cover the $330,000 cost to up­grade the build­ing.

It was closed in Au­gust 2012 af­ter it was deemed struc­turally un­safe.

‘‘It’s fan­tas­tic to get this out­come,’’ Brewer said af­ter the meet­ing. ‘‘ We had our an­nual meet­ing in Fe­bru­ary and the con­sen­sus was to go for it.

‘‘We have the peo­ple to pull this to­gether and a num­ber have said they will help, like plumbers, sur­vey­ors and ar­chi­tects, so let’s make it hap­pen.’’

The $330,000 is an es­ti­mate, but Brewer and the coun­cil say the cost could rise once a proper in­spec­tion of the in­side of the build­ing is done.

The full busi­ness case from the theatre com­pany will need to be pre­sented to the coun­cil by Au­gust 1.

Buy­ing the build­ing for $ 1, re­pair­ing it in 12 months and main­tain­ing it were key tenets of the pro­posal.

‘‘We are go­ing to be re­al­is­tic and not get our­selves in dire fi­nan­cial straits over this,’’ Brewer said. ‘‘We only have 12 weeks, so it won’t take long be­fore we get to a point of no re­turn. We don’t want this to kill us so we can’t be bloody-minded about it.’’

Porirua Lit­tle Theatre wasn’t the only group to present an of­fer to the coun­cil to take own­er­ship of the hall.

Ti­tahi Bay Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion was in the run­ning but, af­ter a meet­ing with the coun­cil last month, de­clined to pro­ceed with its of­fer.

It is un­der­stood the res­i­dents as­so­ci­a­tion’s busi­ness case in­volved it be­ing owner and the theatre group be­ing chief ten­ant.

Brewer said com­mu­nity use would be part of its busi­ness case and hoped the res­i­dents as­so­ci­a­tion would be in­volved in the hall’s fu­ture.

At Te Komiti, all coun­cil­lors spoke favourably of Porirua Lit­tle Theatre’s pro­posal.

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said the Shared Re­spon­si­bil­ity Scheme had left him ‘‘bruised’’ re­cently – re­fer­ring to is­sues around the Bernie Wood Turf – but he hoped the theatre’s ap­pli­ca­tion was strong.

‘‘This is not a slush fund for com­mu­nity groups, but I hope you [the theatre] have some real suc­cess. It won’t be easy and you need to be well sup­ported by the com­mu­nity.’’

Leggett said a pity the theatre group could not work with Ti­tahi Bay Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion ‘‘ as they have tens of thou­sands of dol­lars at their dis­posal’’.

The es­ti­mated $316,000 cost to de­mol­ish the Marines Hall will still be in­cluded in the coun­cil long-term plan.

Sandy Brewer says she is con­fi­dent but re­al­is­tic.

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