Councils grant cash for regional theatre
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.
A view of the proposed Waikato Regional Theatre and Embassy Park from Victoria Street.