Theatre misses out on rebuild grant

PAUL GORMAN
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2012

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An 83-year-old Christchurch theatre demolished after the February 22 earthquake appears unlikely to get Christchurch Earthquake Mayoral Relief funding.

The Repertory Theatre in Kilmore St survived the September 2010 quake but was not so lucky last February.

The theatre trust has applied for a $3.25 million grant from the relief fund to allow it to rebuild.

However, council staff are recommending councillors decline the application at their Thursday meeting.

A $1m bid for support towards a quake-counselling centre at the Canterbury Charity Hospital is also unlikely to be backed.

In a paper to councillors, strategic initiatives manager Lincoln Papali'i said the council recognised the theatre's "long and proud history in the city".

"[However], the proposal is not consistent with the central-city plan, which identifies a range of other projects to support the arts, including performing arts groups," he said.

"Staff therefore recommend that this application should be declined and the trust invited to work with council planners to optimise their desire with the overall city design."

Repertory's first production was in November 1928 and it moved to its purpose-built theatre, which could seat more than 400 people, in the early 1930s.

The mayoral relief fund was set up to provide money for activities that contribute to the "rebuilding of the social and physical infrastructure" of the city and remedy "hardship" suffered by individuals, groups, community organisations and businesses.

Theatre trust chairwoman Dianne Jones said funding was "absolutely crucial" for the rebuilding of the theatre.

The trust had still not received any information on the state of the theatre's land.

A theatre planning meeting would tonight discuss a range of issues, she said.

Papali'i's paper recommends approving grants of $100,000 to the Court Theatre and $250,000 for the rebuilding of The Loons' Lyttelton theatre.

It also supports:

- A creative hub and central rehearsal space for musicians ($80,000).

- "Artbox" workspace for displaced artists ($80,000).

- Funding towards a replacement Music Centre of Christchurch ($70,000).

- Scout hut repairs for the Gordon Scout Group ($3500).

Other projects recommended to be declined include:

- A social services centre for the Little River Wairewa Community Trust ($138,000).

- "Be the Change" workshops for youth in schools ($30,000).

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