Theatre forced to find a new home
The show must go on somehow for Porirua Little Theatre.
The theatre, which has been based at 4 Lydney Place in the Porirua CBD since 2012, has been told by the Porirua City Council that it’s got to be out by November.
The building, which needs a new roof among other things, is going to be occupied by a commercial tenant.
It’s understood members have a meeting scheduled with Porirua mayor Mike Tana on June 1 to discuss options.
Theatre stalwart Amanda Stone said she had directed school holiday pantomimes for the theatre for the past 15 years, which were attended by thousands of children and earned NZ Theatre Federation awards.
‘‘This year will be the first year we will not be able to produce a school holiday show due to the council deciding we must vacate the building.
‘‘This is a very sad situation as these shows are often children’s first introduction to theatre.’’
Council chief operating officer Tamsin Evans said the organisation was occupying one of the council’s key CBD buildings.
The council had charged a ’’peppercorn rent’’ of $9000 a year, compared to the previous tenant who paid about $150,000.
‘‘We’ve had commercial interest in occupying it, so to be fair to ratepayers we need to look at receiving an income at market rates for the building.’’
The building needs the roof replaced, which has put a stop to public performances, and the large old heating and ventilation ducts have been removed.
A new system would not be installed until a commercial operator took over the building.
The other issue was the building was not well served with toilets for public use.
This meant the building no longer met the theatre’s requirements for performances.
‘‘What we have said is that they can carry on using it until the end of November to build and store stage sets and for rehearsals, which they can do without the requirement of sanitary services for the public,’’ she said.
‘‘Unfortunately we don’t have a supply of buildings that perfectly suit the needs of groups in our community, particularly if their activities require exclusive use,’’ Evans said.
A rescue plan has been hatched to try to save the theatre’s former home in a defunct United States Marine hall in Titahi Bay, which closed in 2012 and was once earmarked for demolition.