Grant brings goal a lot closer

A concept drawing of the Queenstown Memorial Hall after its development. Image by Tony Butel.
A concept drawing of the Queenstown Memorial Hall after its development. Image by Tony Butel.
A $200,000 grant from the Lottery Community Facilities Fund to the Queenstown Memorial Hall last week was a ''superb boost'' to the trust's coffers, chairwoman Cath Gilmour said.

Cr Gilmour said the trustees were ''absolutely delighted'' to receive the news. That left just $55,000 to raise for the $3.1 million project.

''That is still a lot of money, but a whole lot more manageable than $255,000. We have two months left to raise this amount before the trust would have to take out a loan.

''Community support has been so strong we are sure we won't be forced into that - or thousands of dollars worth of sausage sizzles, though [trust deputy chairman] Steve Wilde has said he is ready to don his barbecue apron.''

Cr Gilmour said the trust's first approach to the fund was turned down in July when the committee advised it the Queenstown Lakes District Council had to commit more money before it would contribute to the cause.

An extraordinary council meeting then agreed to contribute $500,000 from the Queenstown Airport Corporation community dividend as a one-off payment, and the trust reapplied for a lesser amount. ''This time, we ticked all Lottery's boxes and qualified for funds. We're rapt.''

Planning for the upgrade began two years ago with a community working group, which morphed into the trust once plans were confirmed.

The upgrade includes raising the stage roof; creating wing space; installing a retractable wall to enable the auditorium to be split into separate performance or workshop spaces; tripling the entrance foyer; creating access to the downstairs dressing room; and installing tiered seating, air conditioning, new toilets and improved acoustics.

Cr Gilmour said increased bookings for cultural and commercial events were already proving the worth of the upgrade. Part of the hall, recently renamed the Queenstown Memorial Centre, will be made available for the Pub Charity New Zealand Sevens tournament in January.

A dt carter fashion show organised by Tania Carter recently raised $8000 for the upgrade. Ms Gilmour said the project remained on budget and on schedule to be completed on February 28.