The Press

‘Seed money’ only for Court Theatre

- CHARLIE GATES

The Court Theatre should only get ‘‘seed money’’ for a new $45 million central Christchur­ch building and fundraise for the rest, the steering group for the project advised.

A new Court Theatre is proposed as part of the performing arts precinct, but the Christchur­ch City Council only has a budget of $30m for the project and hopes to build a $17m multipurpo­se theatre next door.

The precinct is planned for a site bound by Armagh, New Regent, Gloucester and Colombo streets. The council is developing the project, while the Government is buying the land.

The steering group, which includes representa­tives of the Government, arts agencies and council, was establishe­d in 2014 to provide advice on the project. It is not known exactly how much the group wanted to give the Court Theatre towards the new building, but a leaked report details one option where it is given $10m in ‘‘seed money’’.

The court rejected the idea and the council has been negotiatin­g with the theatre company over the past few months, The Press understand­s.

The report by accountanc­y firm PwC was commission­ed by the council to establish what options offered the best ‘‘value for money’’. It recommende­d that keeping the Court Theatre in its postearthq­uake Addington home and building a $17m multipurpo­se theatre on the precinct site was the best value for money.

The report also outlined ways to subsidise the expense of operating a new central city Court Theatre, where rent and rates would be higher than the suburbs, where it moved after the 2011 earthquake­s.

A car park building, with a budget of $20.6m and $7m in council funding, would be built on the precinct site to provide revenue of about $149,000 a year from 400 parking spaces. About 50 square metres of retail space on the ground floor would also provide revenue.

‘‘It is assumed that the revenue streams from the car park are returned to tenants of the precinct to help support them over the longer term,’’ the PwC report states.

About 154sqm of retail and hospitalit­y space planned for the new court would also help offset operationa­l costs.

Court Theatre chief executive Philip Aldridge said the car park and retail space would help make the precinct financiall­y self sufficient.

‘‘Car parking is important to our patrons and, accordingl­y needs to be part of the business plan. The court is working with council to develop a groundbrea­king vision for the quarter which will be self-sustaining through such commercial activities.’’

Council citizens and community general manager Mary Richardson would not go into detail about the steering group advice.

‘‘The advice was to hasten the developmen­t of the performing arts precinct and advance central city revitalisa­tion. They also advised that the next step was for council to meet with the court theatre to discuss the approach.’’

Christchur­ch Mayor Lianne Dalziel met with the Court Theatre and council management yesterday.

‘‘Activation of the central city was always the intention of the performing arts precinct and clearly the Court Theatre would be a key to achieving success in that regard. I have asked staff to bring the report on the performing arts precinct to council as soon possible.’’

 ?? PHOTO: GEORGE HEARD/STUFF ?? The site earmarked for the Court Theatre in the performing arts precinct on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo streets.
PHOTO: GEORGE HEARD/STUFF The site earmarked for the Court Theatre in the performing arts precinct on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo streets.
 ??  ?? Philip Aldridge
Philip Aldridge

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