Theatre group’s bold step
‘‘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.