Funding issues for centre

MODERN TWIST: Architect plans for the proposed Shore Exhibition Centre.
MODERN TWIST: Architect plans for the proposed Shore Exhibition Centre.

The $14 million needed to build North Shore's first art exhibition centre could be met by Auckland Council if the local board get behind the project 100 per cent, mayor Len Brown says.

But dissent between members over whether the board can realistically cover future operating costs of up to $800,000 per year is proving to be a stumbling block.

"What I'm most looking for is a clear and unequivocal message that the local board wants an art centre in Takapuna," Mr Brown says.

"At this time there is not the compelling level of support that we would need to see."

The mayor attended last week's local board meeting at which the Shore Exhibition Trust asked for the board's endorsement for the project and their help advocating for funding from the council.

They are also seeking a three-year lease for the former Takapuna Library site.

Member Joseph Bergin opposed to the board's decision to grant the trust an extension to submit a second business case after their first was found lacking in several areas by the board.

"I don't want to drag the trust through another three months of expectations just to say again that we don't have the money," Mr Bergin says.

Concerns about the board's ability to guarantee funding for operational costs are echoed by the remaining members with Diane Hale calling the project a "nice to have" but not a necessity.

Exhibition Trust member Ruth Ell points out that both south and west Auckland have council funded arts facilities, secured in the days of their legacy councils.

Local board chairman Chris Darby says new funding models need to be considered.

The Shore Exhibition Trust has been asked to look at the feasibility of a funding model where Auckland Council provides only the lease of the building and no operational or capital funding.

North Shore Times