Trust to run arts bodies announced

A new trust that will oversee performing arts in Nelson is hoped to be up and running before the end of the year, says city councillor Pete Rainey.

A joint governance structure was proposed last year to oversee performing arts in Nelson as the city council prepares to take ownership of the Nelson School of Music and the Theatre Royal. The finer details for the transaction were still being worked through.

The council is to become owner of the buildings, and the new trust will take care of the running of the venues.

The council has agreed through the Annual Plan process to give the new entity $125,000 to help establish its operations.

Discussion among councillors during deliberations queried if the establishment fund was appropriate, because it had not been signalled in the Draft Annual Plan, and the new entity was yet to be formed.

Mr Rainey, who holds the council's community services portfolio, said allocation of the money was a budgeting exercise to allow the funds to be available in the 2013-14 financial year, and were contingent on the trust being formed. Provision of the funds had impacted on the rates equation, but it was wiser to have the money available than seek it later.

If the new trust is not formed in the coming financial year, funding levels in 2014-15 would remain as set out in the 2012-22 Long Term Plan.

Councillors also agreed that if the new trust was formed, total operational funding in 2014-15 would be set at a maximum of $300,000.

Council chief executive Clare Hadley said the move to allocate the $125,000 to the new entity on the assumption it would be formed in the coming year, was not detrimental to the position of the organisations, but would potentially improve their positions as they moved toward a single entity.

The council has also confirmed existing funding levels for the Theatre Royal and Nelson School of Music, until such time as the new entity is formed. It is also considering a request from the school of music to bring forward funding of $4 million allocated to the 2019-20 year to 2015-16, which will be considered during the Long Term Plan process for 2015-25.

Mrs Hadley will continue to negotiate and provide advice to the school's board on matters related to the transfer of ownership of assets to the council, including the impact of bringing the funding forward, the council taking on the school's $167,000 outstanding mortgage and the impact of funding depreciation and interest cost on rates.

Mr Rainey said the council wanted the school to succeed and be around for many years.

"The council is standing behind its ownership of the historic buildings with seed funding to ensure the new management structure gets off the ground with a strong start," he said.

Mr Rainey said the new trust would not be council appointed. He envisaged it would be made up of representatives of the theatre and school.

The Nelson Mail