New Auckland waterfront theatre a step closer
A new Auckland waterfront theatre came a step closer this week, with the Auckland Theatre Company announcing a $5 million ASB Community Trust contribution to the proposed venue in the Wynyard Quarter.
It takes the total pledged to the new 660-seat $35m theatre project to nearly $22m.
The company already had pledges of $16.5m, including a conditional budget allocation $10m from Auckland Council.
The pledges are conditional on further support being secured and the company hopes to have most funding in place when it reports back to Auckland Council this month.
"We are thrilled to have ASB Community Trust's support for this visionary project, which will provide Auckland residents and visitors with a world-class theatre going experience for generations to come," company general manager Lester McGrath says.
Trust chairman Ken Whitney said his group was inspired by what has been achieved by working in partnership with other funders.
"The trust is proud and delighted to be able to make a substantial contribution to what will be a world-class theatre for Auckland," he said.
"This is about building infrastructure. The building itself is going to be a huge asset for our city, but what's more important is the potential it offers to develop the region's cultural resources.
"The trust has been a long-term supporter of ATC. We've also put a lot of resource into our emerging artist's programme, in partnership with the company.
"This cutting-edge facility is going to give those young artists something to aspire to."
Mr McGrath said the theatre would stimulate "the after 5pm" economy in the Wynyard Quarter, generating additional spending of $8.59m a year in the Quarter, filling a major gap in Auckland's current theatre provision.
It will share a public lane way, a courtyard and a smaller 200-seat studio theatre with ASB Bank, which is a cornerstone partner of the project.
ATC will be the anchor tenant, using the space for 30 weeks a year, with other significant New Zealand and international performing arts companies able to utilise it for the remainder of the year.
The other major funder is the Lion Foundation, which contributed $1m to the project.
The facility will mark a coming of age for Auckland as an international waterfront city, offering residents and visitors a state-of-the-art cultural attraction to compliment the wide range of public spaces, restaurants and cafes, and mixed use business development being led by Waterfront Auckland.
There will be a cafe, bar and lounge, and a restaurant on the ground floor of the ASB building.
Ample car parking, and in close proximity to Britomart, with future developments for public transport planned, make it an easily accessible location.
"Auckland's aspiration to be the world's most liveable city is terrific," ATC artistic director Colin McColl says.
"A new venue for theatre and dance in the Wynyard Quarter [featuring three performances spaces] opens up exciting new possibilities for how the performing arts companies and the public can engage with each other.
"Liveable cities need live and able arts companies," he says.
AUT University also announced New Zealand's first comprehensive theatre and university partnership focused on supporting the theatre through education.
The three-year partnership will connect ATC and AUT University artistically and administratively at all levels to develop sustainable business practices for the arts.
"This collaboration will provide our academics with a broad range of research opportunities and support multiple career pathways for our graduates", AUT University vice-chancellor Derek McCormack says.
The theatre will be located on the corner of Halsey St and Jellicoe St, alongside the new office building being built by Kiwi Income Property Trust which will house ASB Bank's head office.
Detailed designs by Moller Architects, in association with Bligh Voller Nield, are 90% complete and construction is likely to start in early next year, with the theatre opening in mid-2014.