Theatre group de­serves praise

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Porirua Lit­tle Theatre should be ap­plauded for its brave leap into its build­ing own­er­ship of the Marines Hall at 20 White­house Rd, Ti­tahi Bay.

The theatre group, which has a track record of get­ting things done, will need full com­mu­nity sup­port if it is to make a fist of its lat­est un­der­tak­ing.

The Marines Hall saga has had many twists and turns, but there is now cau­tious op­ti­mism, even from Porirua City Coun­cil, which could sell the build­ing to Porirua Lit­tle Theatre for $1 should a con­crete busi­ness case be pre­sented.

Last De­cem­ber, coun­cil­lors voted to de­mol­ish it, con­demn­ing it as an eye­sore not worth restor­ing and of lit­tle his­tor­i­cal value.

So­cial me­dia went into over­drive, which high­lighted that there was a strong de­sire in Porirua – and fur­ther afield – to re­store the hall to its for­mer glory.

Un­der­stand­ably Porirua Lit­tle Theatre of­fi­cials want out of their pop- up theatre in Lyd­ney Place. That was meant to be a three-month tem­po­rary home.

Two years later the theatre group is still there.

A re­cent re­port noted that the coun­cil was los­ing in­come by not tak­ing a mar­ket rent on Lyd­ney Place, so the sooner Porirua Lit­tle Theatre is out, the bet­ter.

But now that the theatre group has made its ex­cel­lent pro­posal public, its sup­port­ers need to of­fer time and re­sources.

The group’s pres­i­dent, Sandy Brewer, said it had the back­ing of scaf­fold­ers, plumbers, ar­chi­tects and other pro­fes­sion­als, along with many other will­ing work­ers.

Now’s the time for those peo­ple to get their minds work­ing and their hands dirty.

Porirua Lit­tle Theatre’s vi­sion in­cludes im­prov­ing the struc­tural state of the hall, mak­ing it look at­trac­tive on the out­side, de­vel­op­ing a longert­erm re­design of the lay­out and, im­por­tantly, mak­ing it avail­able for all sorts of com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties.

Here’s hop­ing the $330,000 es­ti­mate for re­pairs is ac­cu­rate, or else spi­ralling costs will spell the death knell for the project and the coun­cil’s dor­mant de­mo­li­tion plans will be re­vived.

The coun­cil, mean­while, is tak­ing a big risk with its Shared Re­spon­si­bil­ity Scheme fund, which will help out Porirua Lit­tle Theatre to the tune of $247,000.

Hav­ing be­ing stung by the Bernie Wood Turf sit­u­a­tion, it is un­der­stand­able that mayor Nick Leggett and his col­leagues want a solid busi­ness case for the Marines Hall by Au­gust 1 or they will not give their sup­port.

It’s a shame Ti­tahi Bay Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion could not come on board for this project, but its tur­bu­lent re­cent his­tory sug­gested a com­pro­mise with the city coun­cil and Porirua Lit­tle Theatre was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to reach.

It is cer­tainly easy to un­der­stand Brewer’s de­sire not to be a ten­ant of an­other group. ‘‘Why would we, when we have the op­por­tu­nity to be our own land­lord?’’ she said.

For the res­i­dents as­so­ci­a­tion, it is an op­por­tu­nity lost, but the door is not closed and Brewer is hope­ful the as­so­ci­a­tion will be part of the com­mu­nity in­put if the theatre group is suc­cess­ful with its busi­ness case.

Good luck to Porirua Lit­tle Theatre. Here’s hop­ing the shoul­ders are broad enough to take the weight of re­spon­si­bil­ity, be­cause there’s still a dif­fi­cult road to be tra­versed with this is­sue.

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