Tuesday 12 December 2017
Hamilton City Council has voted in favour of exploring proposals for new uses of the city’s ageing Founders Theatre.
The historic theatre was closed in February 2016 due to concerns about the safety of its flying system. A further Detailed Seismic Assessment confirmed the building as having an unacceptably low New Build Standard score.
At today’s Ordinary Meeting, the Council received a staff report outlining the results of two public consultation process – one asking the wider community for comment on the future the theatre, the other seeking expressions of interest and proposals from individuals and groups with ideas for new uses for Founders Theatre.
“As part of our recent public consultation processes, several individuals and community groups have expressed an interest in taking over the theatre – or a slimmed down version of it – for a range of potential uses,” says Sean Murray, the Council’s General Manager of Venues, Tourism, and Major Events.
“The Council has directed staff to explore those proposals and report back with more in-depth information on those.
“The thrust of the proposals is to operate the Founders Theatre as community/creative hub, potentially used by several groups. One proposal does include operating the building as a theatre.”
Mr Murray says a crucial aspect of discussions with interested parties will be funding of their proposals and fiscal matters – particularly the refurbishment and alterations likely to be needed.
“The building needs a lot of work to be made safe and brought up to a good useable standard – and that work comes with a price tag of potentially millions of dollars,” Mr Murray says.
Mr Murray expects staff to bring a new report back to the Council, expected in March or April 2018, with additional information on the proposals and the related business models for those.
Today’s decision by the Council means the building will, in the immediate future at least, not be demolished – however, it will remain closed.
As part of its 10-Year Plan process, the Council has – in principle – committed $25 million to the proposed new Waikato Regional Theatre touted for a site on Victoria St.
The vote to seek more information on the proposals for Founders was 11-1, with Cr Garry Mallett dissenting.