More drama for the playhouse
There was plenty of drama at Rotorua Lakes Council when council agreed to spend $1 million investigating a new design for the recently closed Sir Howards Morrison Performing Arts Centre.
The centre was closed last week after it was was revealed the building was not up to earthquake standards and a safety risk.
In June the council agreed to investigate how the site could be modernised, and a business case developed. Seven designs were discussed on Thursday with staff recommending undertaking a earthquake strengthening, modifying the concert chamber to fit 100-300 seat performances and expanding the Civic Theatre to 1000 seats.
It is estimated the recommended design would cost between $11 and $21 million if completed but an exact figure will not be known until proper design work has been undertaken. Council staff said upgrading the museum could create a new revenue stream for council and make Rotorua an attractive option for promoters of big stage shows who need larger seating capacity.
Mayor Steve Chadwick supported the idea saying and said the performing arts centre revamp could be similar to the Rotorua Museum transformation that was completed a decade ago.
‘‘Doing nothing is not an option,’’ she said. ‘‘We have to do something.
‘‘We have got to move to 1000 seats because we will lose our competitive edge otherwise.’’
Survey work undertaken by council staff showed 92 per cent had an interest in performing arts in some level but only 57 per cent had been to an event or show in Rotorua over the last 12 months. This was put down to poor marketing of the venue.
However councillor Rob Kent said the thought of spending $1 million planning something the city could not afford in any instance was misguided.
‘‘How can we spent one million trying to turn a sow ear into a silk purse,’’ he said.
‘‘Last time this came up we were asking the community to see if they would allow us to spend $6 million on the performing arts centre and the result was a resounding no.
‘‘We should look at how best we spend as we are going to be short on money. We have a lot of projects to spend this money on. We should come back to it.’’