Tenants keen on arts plan

MARC GREENHILL AND GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 03/06/2014

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Plans for Christchurch's performing arts precinct are pushing ahead despite not all the prospective tenants having signed on to the project.

Doubts were cast over the anchor project last month when Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee stopped land purchases, sparking a public spat with the city council.

Brownlee said the council was not following a cost-sharing agreement with the Government over its $45million plans for performing arts facilities on the block bounded by Gloucester, Armagh, New Regent and Colombo Sts.

The council denied that was the case.

The Press understands the project is now back on track after a site plan developed by the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) received favourable feedback from potential tenants - the Court Theatre, Music Centre of Christchurch and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO).

It is understood the three anchor tenants could be housed on land already bought by the Crown. 

The orchestra had been considering whether to build its new facility as part of the performing arts precinct, or in a former aircraft hangar at Wigram converted for $7.8m.

It appears likely that the orchestra will be persuaded to commit to the central city, but neither it nor the CCDU would confirm this when contacted by The Press.

A CCDU spokesman said: ''Things are progressing positively and we're in discussion with the CSO and others. We expect there will be positive announcements to be made in the near future.''

Orchestra marketing manager Michelle Walsh said no decision had been made.

''We're in active and engaged conversation with CCDU and the council... and that hasn't really changed in the last couple of weeks.''

Music Centre of Christchurch director Bronwyn Bijl declined to comment.

Isaac Theatre Royal chief executive Neil Cox was not aware of any developments with its potential neighbours.

The theatre will anchor the precinct when it reopens later this year.

''From our perspective, we'd just like to see stuff happen around us and not be left in a performing arts precinct as the only performing venue,'' he said.

Court Theatre chief executive Philip Aldridge said the Government was committed to ensuring the performing arts precinct went ahead.

''I really think it's a positive message at the moment - it will happen,'' he said. 

Aldridge said the theatre was still negotiating with the CCDU and was hopeful of a ''good outcome''.

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- The Press

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