Change should help NSOM upgrade

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:48 30/06/2014

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The Nelson School of Music has made room in its governance structure to allow it to bring in extra help for the forthcoming upgrade of its main building.

Board chairman Neil Deans said there was generally strong support at the school's annual meeting for the move to fine-tune the school's "clunky" constitution, to allow it to co-opt new members to help with changes ahead.

Deans said the meeting was more a forum for discussion than resolutions, but it did agree on a way ahead.

"We acknowledge that we need some other skills on the board to help us take on the [upgrade] project. It's not common business to take something of this scale on, and we need extra skills and experience."

Deans said the NSOM was also in receipt of a substantial amount of ratepayer funds, and the process to allow outside help also acknowledged this.

The school's main auditorium was closed last December after it was found to be unsafe as an earthquake-prone building in need of strengthening. This put it out of action sooner than expected for a planned significant upgrade.

About 25 people attended the annual meeting, which Deans described as "very productive" in terms of ideas put forward for how the school would continue to perform while not having the auditorium available.

He said the board acknowledged that there were many constraints on how the school would continue to provide community education and performance programmes, but a main item on the agenda was how to work more closely with the Nelson City Council.

Deans said in April that the NSOM was pleased to have the council's backing, after fearing that its operating budget would be cut.

He said the school had faced a significant reduction in income because it was no longer operating a facility that was hired out commercially, but fixed costs such as insurance still had to be covered, and staff numbers had been cut from five to two.

While the council is committed to supporting the strengthening and refurbishment project, it deferred $1.4 million in funding to 2015-16 while the school worked on plans for the redevelopment project.

This year the council allocated up to $100,000 to support the NSOM's Winter Festival and other activities.

Deans said everyone at the annual meeting wanted to keep the school going while the auditorium was not open, but there was tension between the efforts that went into this and driving a major refurbishment project.

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- The Nelson Mail

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