Local trust joins philanthropist in supporting arts centre

Press Release – Rotorua Lakes Council

Local trust joins philanthropist in supporting proposed performing arts centre upgrade A proposed upgrade of Rotoruas Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre has received support from Sir Owen Glenn and the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust. Sir …Local trust joins philanthropist in supporting proposed performing arts centre upgrade

A proposed upgrade of Rotorua’s Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre has received support from Sir Owen Glenn and the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust.

Sir Owen has announced he will donate $3m to the proposed project while the Rotorua Trust has agreed in principle to contribute $1.5m.

The building had to be closed in November, until further notice, following a detailed seismic assessment found it was below required standards. Options for the centre were presented to Council later that month and elected members decided to proceed to detailed design for both earthquake strengthening and an upgrade. The detailed design work will enable final costings to be ascertained so decisions can be made on how to proceed.

Councillors decided earthquake strengthening so the building could be reopened was a core priority and that proposed upgrades would need to be dependent on external funding. They were aware there were early indications of interest from several potential funders to support the upgrade work.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick says confirmed commitments from Sir Owen and Rotorua Trust is “fantastic news”.

“This early support which will help boost efforts to secure other funding. I’ll look forward to expressing our gratitude to both Sir Owen and Rotorua Trust personally. Their support is very much appreciated.

“There is some urgency with this but we will need to be a little patient to enable everything to be done thoroughly and properly,” Mayor Chadwick says.

“The centre has been important to our community and we can’t be without a facility like this long term. We want to be able to settle on an option as soon as possible and get things underway as quickly as we can.”

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Owen has supported individuals, groups and organisations worldwide and was knighted 2013 for his services to philanthropy. He hopes his donation will encourage others to support not only the proposed Rotorua project, but arts and culture in general.

Sir Owen says he’s pleased to be able to pay tribute in this way to his good friend Sir Howard Morrison. “I always wanted to do something in his memory so I hope this project will go ahead.”

He has been a regular in Rotorua since before he and Sir Howard became friends, visiting annually during his hockey playing days and still attending occasional race meetings if his horses are featuring at Arawa Park. “It’s one of my favourite places,” he says.

Sir Owen will be back in Rotorua at the end of the month when he will spend time with the Morrison whanau.

Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust Chairman Stewart Edward says the local trust unanimously supports refurbishment of the centre, recognising it as an important community facility.

He says the trust sees the proposed project as an opportunity to enhance the centre in a more contemporary fashion.

“The closure has had a significant impact on the artistic and commercial lifeblood of the city,” Mr Edward says. “The trust is fortunate to be in a position to help with the upgrade without compromising its ability to provide grants through its regular monthly grants cycle. These grants help organisations, big and small, to achieve our collective goal of making a better Rotorua for all.”

The performing arts centre funding will be subject to the Trust’s usual application procedures, including a solid business case.

SHMPAC timeline

An upgrade of the performing arts centre was proposed in 2014 and council undertook engagement and consultation with the local performing arts community and sought input from the wider community.

It was subsequently identified that further work needed to be done to strengthen the business case for upgrading the centre and the 2017/18 Annual Plan allocated $1m in this financial year to complete this work and potentially – depending on decision-making – start detailed design and construction.

The building was previously assessed as being an earthquake risk and a subsequent detailed seismic assessment found a number of areas fell below required standards, prompting its closure until strengthening is undertaken.

Work done on the facility in previous years was compliant but methodologies have changed and there are new building standards as a result of learnings from Christchurch.

Following elected members’ approval to proceed with preferred options for strengthening and upgrading the centre, expressions of interest for concept designs were sought with nine submissions received from local, national and international firms. These are now being reviewed and will be shortlisted to two to be considered by a steering group which will make a recommendation to Council, hopefully in April.

Detailed design will follow selection of a concept design and efforts to secure external funding options will be ongoing.

What about Rotorua Museum?

The museum remains a priority and work on detailed costings for a preferred option is underway.

The museum situation was different to the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre because there were still a lot of unknowns when the museum was closed in November 2016 due to damage discovered following the Kaikoura earthquake.

Options for the historic building were presented to elected members in October following detailed assessment of how it was constructed and a preferred option is being progressed. The recommended option involves inserting bracing into walls, installing a new sub-floor, replacing the roof, hopefully with a more lightweight option, and other strengthening.

Work is now underway to establish detailed costings and is expected to be completed within the coming months. Once finished, the costings will go to Council for its direction, prior to community consultation.

Repair costs need to be determined before insurance can be finalised.


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