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Final cash call for Auckland theatre

$9 million needed for waterfront jewel

Last updated 05:00 21/12/2012
waterfront theatre

SLEEK: Plans for the Auckland waterfront theatre show an ultra-modern building with plenty of open space.

Lester McGrath
CONFIDENT MOOD: Lester McGrath of Auckland Theatre Company.

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A final fundraising push is underway for a theatre on Auckland's waterfront with construction due to start as early as next year.

The Auckland Theatre Company turns 21 next year and has so far raised about $26 million of the $35m required for a 600-seater complex in Wynyard Quarter.

General manager Lester McGrath said starting the 18-month build in such a significant year would be a "tremendous gift" for the city.

The money raised so far includes $10m from Auckland Council, $5m from the ASB Community Trust and $3m from Creative New Zealand.

A further $3.5m has been pledged by a principal partner for naming rights and another $2.8m from founding benefactors and patrons.

The company has until June 2014 to raise the total amount before the council's funding commitment lapses.

McGrath said the goal was achievable.

Earlier this month the company learned Lotteries New Zealand would donate $750,000 "which is a terrific contribution", he said.

"It is two years this month since we gave our first presentation to the council and to have secured just over $26m in pledges in that time is certainly something."

Theatre plans show a sleek building incorporating open public spaces over two levels, a cafe and exterior laneways with courtyard space. A major artwork will grace the inside walls.

McGrath described its design as resembling a "vibrant jewel in a glass box".

The theatre itself will have a proscenium arch and, despite boasting 600 seats, will provide an intimate experience, he said.

A walkway will link it with the ASB head office to be built next door which will also house a complementary 200-seat studio.

"It's very much about opening the whole thing up. We hope to redefine the theatre experience in the same way museums and galleries have - they are very cool places to hang out now, very welcoming," McGrath said.

The theatre will be built on the site currently occupied by Moana Fisheries on the corner of Halsey St and Madden St.
Detailed designs are 90 per cent complete and McGrath hopes to be ready to apply for resource consent in the next four months.

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