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Hawkes Bay Opera House awarded up to $2.5 million

Hawkes Bay Opera House awarded up to $2.5 million

Grant to restore and redevelop historic buildings

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Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced a grant of up to $2.5 million to the Hastings District Council for the restoration and redevelopment of historic buildings for the Hawkes Bay Opera House complex.

"The redevelopment is transforming these magnificent buildings, with their unique Spanish Mission and early twentieth century architecture and history, into a lively venue and tourism attraction," Helen Clark said.

"The project involves the restoration and refurbishment of two Historic Places Trust Category 1 registered buildings, the Municipal Theatre and the Municipal Buildings. Two new components - a three-storey glass foyer and an adjoining plaza - are uniting the buildings into an opera theatre complex.

"When the makeover is completed, the whole complex will provide state-of-the-art facilities for conferences and a high-tech venue for local and touring theatrical productions.

"The grant makes a major contribution to a project with both regional and national significance. It becomes a national and regional performance venue, and it preserves two significant heritage buildings so that they can continue to be used for their original purpose and enjoyed by future generations," Helen Clark said.

Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker said the grant is the sixth to be awarded under the Significant Community Based Projects Fund this year.

"The Fund was set up to support major community projects which have regional or national significance," said Mr Barker.

"The Hawkes Bay Opera House complex provides a range of arts, cultural and social venues for use by the community. It also ensures the long-term retention and viability of the buildings.

"The Opera House is a gift from a previous generation for the enjoyment of subsequent generations. I'm sure the 1,400 ratepayers who originally paid for the building would be greatly heartened by these refurbishments.

"The new foyer provides a larger, more usable and sophisticated entry area to the theatre without affecting the original character and integrity of the building. It will also be a venue for visual arts presentations.

"The restoration project is strongly supported by the community, many of whom have contributed in various ways to the project," said Mr Barker.

The Fund was announced in Budget 2005 to address the funding issues faced by a growing number of large and important community projects. It is administered by the Department of Internal Affairs, which together with five other government bodies formulated recommendations to Cabinet for final decision.

Cabinet guidelines stipulate that the objective of the Fund is to support major community-based projects which have significant support from, and participation by the community, with a range of regional and/or national benefits.

Particular importance is attached to projects in the fields of arts, culture and heritage; sport and recreation; conservation and environment; tourism; and economic development.


ENDS

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