$1.2m donation to civic theatre

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 06:43 09/12/2013
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The trust representing Marlborough electricity users has donated $200,000 to Blenheim's new civic theatre, with another $1 million to come over the next two years.

The Marlborough Electric Power Trust, which owns all the shares in lines company Marlborough Lines on behalf of Marlborough power users, held its annual meeting on Friday.

Trustee Leo McKendry told the meeting that the Marlborough Civic Theatre Trust had applied for $2m because estimated building costs had shot up as a result of the Christchurch earthquakes. The design engineer substantially increased the strength of the framework and foundations, resulting in considerable additional costs.

The theatre trust wanted to open debt-free, but that was very unlikely after those extra construction costs, he said.

"After receiving advice that our trust deed did not prevent us making a large contribution and that the request met with our own donations policy, we decided that the Marlborough Electric Power Trust would contribute $500,000 to the theatre trust this year and again next year."

In return, the Marlborough Electric Power Trust would have naming rights for the entrance foyer area facing Hutcheson St.

"The Marlborough Electric Power Trust is confident of the support of the majority of its beneficial owners as this contribution will enable each consumer to have a real stake in the creation of a new and valuable community facility."

The contribution would not compromise the trust's ability to keep making its annual dividend of $50 to residents, Mr McKendry said. This was intended to be increased by at least 5 per cent each year for the next 10 years.

The trust received $1.7m in dividends from Marlborough Lines each March, and this was held in several bank accounts for distribution in December.

Trust chairman Tim Smit said the size of this donation did not mean the trust would have to ask Marlborough Lines for a larger dividend as it had some build-up of funds.

Trust company secretary Brenda Munro confirmed the trust had decided about three years ago to make a $200,000 grant to the new theatre project, contingent on it gaining building consents.

The new theatre is expected to open in 2015. 

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- The Marlborough Express

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