Mayfair Theatre manager and trust member Bruce Collier
outside the main entrance to the South Dunedin theatre.
Photo by Brenda Harwood.
A newly formed trust has big plans for the Mayfair
Theatre, in South Dunedin, as the theatre celebrates its
Opened as The King Edward Theatre in December, 1914, the
theatre continued as a movie theatre until 1967, when it was
bought by the Dunedin Opera Company. The theatre was re-named
The Mayfair in 1934.
The Mayfair was converted into a 400-seat live theatre, with
stage and dressing rooms added, and has continued to be used
for Opera Otago, touring and local productions.
This year, the independent Mayfair Theatre Charitable Trust
has been created specifically to take over the running of the
There are five trustees, chaired by Opera Otago stalwart
Geoff Patton, with theatre manager Bruce Collier as
secretary, and trustees Tom Ross, John Collier, Stephen
Manning and Steve Hydes.
The separation of the Dunedin Opera Company and its
performance arm, Opera Otago, from the Mayfair Theatre
Charitable Trust allowed the two groups to pursue their
respective passions, Bruce Collier said.
''This arrangement is ideal, as it allows the opera company
to pursue its passion for performance, while the theatre
trust will pursue its passion for the Mayfair as a community
venue,'' Mr Collier said.
The Mayfair had long operated as Dunedin's ''de facto''
community theatre, but this arrangement would allow more
scope for that work, he said.
As one of the oldest surviving purpose-designed cinema
buildings in New Zealand, The Mayfair is now registered as a
Category 2 historic building by the NZ Historic Places Trust.
Preserving that history and ensuring its future is another
important function of the new Mayfair Theatre Charitable
Trust, which is planning to move forward with aspects of the
theatre's redevelopment plan, initiated in 2008.
Although the original five-stage redevelopment plan, priced
at $7.35 million in 2008, would be revised, the trust was
committed to working towards completion of most of the first
three stages, Mr Collier said.
These would include undertaking work to address health and
safety issues, building code requirements, earthquake
strengthening, upgrading toilet facilities, improving
function room facilities, refurbishing the foyer, and
improving the stage.
It was estimated this work would cost about $2.5 million.
''There are aspects of the other stages of the redevelopment
plans that we would love to have, but we have to be realistic
about the cost,'' Mr Collier said.
The trust planned to formally embark on a theatre
redevelopment fundraising programme later this year.
''In the meantime, things are fine for us to keep operating
the theatre as we are.''