Theatre project in spotlight

Last updated 13:46 09/01/2014

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Express files

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In today's instalment of a series looking back at stories of interest from the Marlborough Express files, Maike van der Heide finds that Blenheim's Civic Theatre has long been a topic of hot debate. This story is from December 15, 1977. 

Those who have been following Blenheim news over the past few years will find this story from 1977 rather familiar - nobody knows where to build a proposed $1.7 million theatre, or who would pay for any shortfall in funding.

In what was clearly a heated debate, the situation was something that, unbeknown to participants, would in part repeat itself 36 years later.

In the December 15, 1977 issue of the Express, a report stated that the Blenheim Borough Council deferred an idea that the theatre budget be limited to about $1 million.

This despite the limitation being the only thing that the Blenheim and Picton mayors and the Marlborough County Council chairman could agree upon during discussions about the theatre.

However, councillors decided they needed more time to talk over the matter, with Blenheim Borough Councillor F Stretch saying a meeting called for contributors to the theatre fund was "cleverly engineered to put the blame for the theatre shortfall on the Blenheim Borough Council and its officers".

Councillor D Bryce said he supported the $1.7m proposal but the council "should handle the matter carefully or it would end up ‘carrying the whole thing'."

Theatre fundraisers had said they could raise $1m without council. The council was soon to have a special meeting to decide on what, if anything, they would contribute. The old Post Office site in Blenheim had been earmarked as a location for the theatre.

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- The Marlborough Express

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