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Council Rescues StarDome Observatory

4 May 2001

The Auckland City Council is coming to the aid of the region’s observatory – but before deciding on the level of funding required to ensure the long-term viability of the observatory it is to do some further work with the board.

The Finance and Property Committee of the Council yesterday recommended to the Combined Committees of Council that the StarDome Observatory be recognised as a regional educational and recreational facility and one that is worth maintaining and funding for its long-term viability.

The committee also recommended that the level of funding required to keep the StarDome viable be investigated by the StarDome board and Council staff.

Without a financial rescue package, the observatory – re-branded the StarDome Observatory – would likely have been forced to close within a year.

Committee chairperson Councillor Kay McKelvie says the observatory is a significant asset to the city and the Auckland region and it is important it survives.

“The StarDome Observatory is something we can’t let die and the Council is working with the board in an attempt to ensure it stays viable for the long-term benefit of the Auckland region,” she says.

“We’re working on ways to fund it sustainably for the future.

“The observatory is a regional asset and – while we accept that Auckland City has the prime responsibility for the facility – we believe other councils in the region have a financial part to play as well.”

Auckland City currently has a $1 million loan to the observatory and last year gave a grant of $50,000 for the year 2000/01 to help with promotion.

The committee also recommended that the observatory report quarterly to the City Attractions Committee on its performance against targets which will be developed in line with those other community facilities are required to meet.

Councillor McKelvie says market research reveals there is strong support from Aucklanders that StarDome is a valuable asset for Auckland and a valuable learning facility for Aucklanders and visitors.

On the question of funding, 68 per cent of the 300 respondents said the Council should fund the observatory in the same way as it does other Auckland museums, facilities and organisation which benefit the community.

The StarDome had an awareness of 86 per cent of the respondents, compared with 85 per cent for the Auckland Philharmonia and 88 per cent for the Maritime Museum.

ENDS

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