Coun­cils grant cash for re­gional theatre

Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Rowland

Hamil­ton City Coun­cil has com­mit­ted to give $25 mil­lion to­wards build­ing a re­gional theatre, despite pub­lic op­po­si­tion and a last­minute at­tempt to stop the spend­ing.

City coun­cil­lor Garry Mal­lett raised a mo­tion to not fund the new theatre when the coun­cil met to fi­nalise projects in its 10-year plan.

The mo­tion, sec­onded by Coun­cil­lor James Cas­son, was knocked back by the ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors who voted 10-3 to con­trib­ute $25 mil­lion to the de­vel­op­ment, plus $1.1 mil­lion a year for 20 years in op­er­at­ing costs.

A day ear­lier Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil signed off on con­tribut­ing $5 mil­lion as part of its own 10-year plan.

Mo­men­tum Waikato in­tends to raise the bal­ance of $23 mil­lion from fund­ing bod­ies, cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship, private donors and cen­tral gov­ern­ment. Trust Waikato has al­ready put for­ward $15 mil­lion and private donors have pledged $5 mil­lion,

As part of the Hamil­ton 10-year plan pub­lic sub­mis­sions, the new re­gional theatre at­tracted 920 peo­ple op­posed to the spend­ing. It was the sec­ond most dis­liked pro­ject af­ter an­other re­vamp of Gar­den Place in the CBD.

Mo­men­tum Waikato is wel­com­ing the re­gional coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to fi­nan­cially sup­port the build­ing of a re­gional theatre af­ter WRC an­nounced it will pro­vide the full amount re­quested for the re­gional por­tion of the cap­i­tal bud­get.

“Mo­men­tum Waikato thanks the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil for recog­nis­ing the new multi-pur­pose theatre is a trans­for­ma­tional op­por­tu­nity for the Waikato,” says Kelvyn Eglin­ton, Mo­men­tum Waikato’s chief ex­ec­u­tive.

“The re­gional Theatre will de­fine and trans­form the Waikato’s cul­tural iden­tity and life for years to come, and be a cat­a­lyst for the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of lo­cal cre­ative in­dus­tries.

“It will pro­vide a path­way to arts ca­reers for young peo­ple from across the re­gion, and bring the world’s best en­ter­tain­ment, for ev­ery taste, within easy reach of the heart­land.

“It is there­fore ap­pro­pri­ate that the re­gion is in­vest­ing in this great fa­cil­ity,” says Kelvyn

Despite the ma­jor­ity of Hamil­ton coun­cil­lors sup­port­ing the pro­ject, there was still in­tense de­bate as Mayor An­drew King tried to shut down coun­cil­lors from ask­ing gen­eral man­ager Sean Mur­ray ques­tions about the pro­ject.

“This is all old in­for­ma­tion that we have had meet­ing af­ter meet­ing on. Can I just ask you to pro­vide any new in­for­ma­tion,” Mayor King said.

Coun­cil­lor Paula South­gate chal­lenged the mayor with the sup­port from fel­low coun­cil­lors say­ing that these were key is­sues raised by pub­lic sub­mit­ters.

“Gen­eral man­ager, can I ask you to make your an­swer short and snappy, in­stead of five-minute an­swers,” Mayor King said again.

This brought a point of or­der from Coun­cil­lor An­gela O’Leary who asked the mayor to be more re­spect­ful to staff when pre­sent­ing.

Mayor King asked Mr Mur­ray not to ‘fluff’ his an­swers up, which brought an ob­jec­tion from CEO Richard Briggs, who said Mr Mur­ray was only try­ing to an­swer elected mem­ber’s ques­tions.

Coun­cil­lors Mal­lett, Cas­son and Leo Tooman voted against com­mit­ting $25 mil­lion to the Waikato Re­gional Theatre. Mayor King, Deputy Mayor Martin Gal­lagher and coun­cil­lors Rob Pas­coe, Siggi Henry, Ge­off Taylor, Dave Macpher­son, Ryan Hamil­ton, O’Leary, South­gate and Bunt­ing sup­ported the fund­ing.

Im­age / Jas­max

A view of the pro­posed Waikato Re­gional Theatre and Em­bassy Park from Vic­to­ria Street.

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