No money for arts centre
COUNCIL BACKTRACKS ON $1 MILLION FUNDING PROMISE FOR AOTEA COLLEGE
Aotea College could have a scaleddown performing arts centre after Porirua City Council reneged on its portion of the funding on Thursday.
In the first substantial decision of Mike Tana’s mayoralty, he and six councillors - Anita Baker and first-termers Ross Leggett, Dale Williams, Beverley Wakem, Kylie Wihapi and Mike Duncan - voted against granting Aotea College $200,000 towards its planned centre.
The recommended $200,000 was a backtrack in itself, being substantially less than the $1 million Porirua City Council agreed to in 2015.
Aotea College first approached the council about a partnership for a performing arts centre in 2012 and a formal agreement was made in 2015.
Aotea principal Kate Gainsford, who looked visibly frustrated during councillors’ discussion at the City Delivery committee meeting, said afterwards she was ‘‘naturally disappointed’’ with the outcome.
‘‘We have worked for a long time to get to this point, many meetings with the council,’’ she said. ‘‘I understand that it’s democracy and one million dollars is no small amount, but I am frustrated.’’
She said the hope was to still build a 500-seat facility, thought to cost about $3.5m, but a decision on the size and scale of the centre would now need to be made.
‘‘We’ve listened to the community and that’s what’s desired - we still want this to be something the public can use.’’
During the meeting, councillors against the $200,000 injection were apologetic, but firm.
Committee chairwoman Anita Baker said she was struggling with the perception ‘‘council had led Aotea College up the garden path’’, but other core investments, such as earthquake and flooding costs, had to come first.
Mayor Mike Tana said the council had bigger nuts to crack. ‘‘When we do anything, it must be for the good of the city, and in the long term. There are other things that need our attention.’’
Councillor Dale Williams said he supported a performing arts centre, but not now. ‘‘We [the council] need to be in better shape. Tough decisions are going to happen in order to be fiscally responsible.’’
Councillor Izzy Ford said the $200,000 felt tokenistic and she wanted the council ‘‘all in’’ on the project.
She, John Burke, ‘Ana Coffey and Faafoi Seiuli voted against canning the funding.
A preliminary artists’ impression the performing arts centre at Aotea College, which will cost about $3.5 million to build.