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Funding for historic Nelson theatre restoration

Funding for historic Nelson theatre restoration

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced a multi-million dollar government grant for the restoration of Nelson’s historically significant Theatre Royal.

Helen Clark made the announcement during a visit to the Theatre Royal in Nelson.

“The government will invest up to $2.9 million in the Theatre Royal restoration project, using money from the Significant Community Based Projects Fund,” Helen Clark said.

“The theatre, opened in 1878, has a New Zealand Historic Places Category II registration and is largely unaltered, which gives it significant historical value.

“It will be refurbished to a standard which makes the theatre a code compliant, high quality performance venue.

“The Theatre Royal is believed to be the oldest surviving operating wooden theatre in Australasia, and possibly in the Southern Hemisphere.

“The retention and restoration of this theatre will make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s heritage of timber architecture. Its planned restoration will enable a wider range of local, regional, and national performances, and even some international performances to be held in Nelson.

“The theatre was capable of seating 800 when first built, making it a remarkable facility in a town with a population of just 6,000 at the time. Early performances in the nineteenth century featured acrobats and tumblers, and an English opera company which staged five different operas in five nights.

“It became Nelson’s first picture theatre in the early years of the twentieth century, and was also used for boxing and wrestling tournaments. More recently it has been used for local amateur productions and touring shows,” Helen Clark said.

The $32 million Significant Community Based Projects Fund was set up by the Labour-led Government in 2005 to support major community projects which have regional or national significance.

Grants in the first funding round in 2006 were awarded to the Invercargill Velodrome (up to $1 million), the Dunedin Chinese Gardens (up to $3.75 million), an eco-tourism attraction in the West Coast's Oparara Valley (up to $1.68 million), Maungatautari Ecological Island (up to $5.5 million), Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds (up to $4.7 million), and the Hawke's Bay Opera House (up to $2.5 million).

Grants in the second and final funding round have also been awarded to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary (up to $6.5 million), Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust (up to $578,699), McLean Park Regional Trust ($2.9 million), Riverton Heritage and Tourist Centre (up to $172,203) and the Tauranga Art Gallery (up to $650,000).

The Significant Community Based Projects Fund was established to distribute a total of $32 over a maximum of four years. Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker said that as a result of the high calibre of applications received, the fund has now been completely allocated. Rick Barker has recently (14 October) announced a new Lotteries fund which will provide $16 million annually over the next three years for major community projects with regional or national significance.


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