Groups make case for cultural hub

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2014

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Culture was pushed to the forefront of the Invercargill City Council's attention during draft annual plan hearings yesterday.

The council spent the day listening to community views, but arts was the topic many wanted their views heard on.

From the desire to create a performing arts hub, to the need for more visual arts displays in the city centre, about a dozen people shared their ideas for arts and culture in the city.

The Performing Arts Centre Committee, which presented to council last month, said yesterday they wanted to begin the process of acquiring land on Esk and Deveron St owned by Fairfax Media, and gauge the council's receptiveness to the use of the Scottish Hall for a $5 million inner city performing arts hub.

The committee, made up of the Scottish Hall Trust, Invercargill Garrison Band and the Musicians Club, has been planning the complex for years and hope to build it adjacent to the Scottish Hall in Esk St.

Garrison Band representative John Bath, who has been a part of the band for 46 years, said the band already had a buyer lined up for its hall which was no longer suitable for the band.

"Our band room is a lot older than me and deteriorating badly."

However, trust spokesman Trevor Daley said the sale of the two properties would only raise part of the funding needed and further money would be needed.

The group asked the council about the possibility of the properties being landbanked by the council to ensure the viability of the project in the near future.

Funding would not be a major issue because musicians were used to fundraising, but the funds would not be available immediately, Daley said.

They had approached the Invercargill Licensing Trust and the Community Trust of Southland and had a good response.

They now just needed the support of the council and the use of the Scottish Hall to progress and get the project moving, Daley said.

The Arts South Charitable Trust also presented to council about its trust and where it saw visual arts in the future.

Councillor Ian Pottinger asked whether the trust believed there was a suitable facility in the central city for visual arts and whether part of the money for the CBD upgrade should be used to create a visual arts hub.

Trust member Dawn Glynn said to have a central space for arts would be a fantastic facility for the arts community.

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- The Southland Times

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