DCC to consider extra funding for Regent

The Dunedin City Council will today discuss whether to increase funding to the Regent Theatre.

Councillors asked for a report on the theatre's situation and the arrangements between it and the council after the trust that runs the theatre asked the council for $70,000 more this financial year to meet increased compliance costs for its upgraded building and an unexpected rates increase.

The council had decided to give the trust $30,000 extra, increasing to $89,200 the annual amount it contributes to the trust via a service level agreement for maintenance and operating the theatre.

The council owns the building.

It also makes extra contributions, financial and through other assistance, to assist with upkeep and compliance requirements, is responsible for exterior maintenance of the building and recently invested millions to upgrade the theatre, a project for which the trust also raised more than $2 million.

In a report to be considered by the council's community development committee today, council community arts adviser Cara Paterson says the roles and responsibilities of both partners to the agreement, the Otago Theatre Trust and the council, are unclear and need to be clarified.

She ruled out a lease and pay-back arrangement, which would not resolve the problem, and suggested two options.

Either increase funding under the service level agreement to cover the maintenance and extra compliance costs, or remove responsibility and funding for ongoing compliance costs and building/asset maintenance programme from the service level agreement and increase the budget of the council's property department, giving it responsibility for that work.

It was recommended a decision on the future investment in the theatre should be made after a review of council civic grants and service level agreements to take place this financial year, and as part of the next annual plan process.

The aim of the review is to develop a method of creating consistency in arrangements with community organisations using council-owned buildings.

There is no consistent formula or rationale across the range of community, arts or recreation facilities.

The report also notes that the trust intends to reduce the size and change the make-up of its board, to one of no more than nine members, and remove the requirement for three council members on the board, changing the council's role to that of an observer.

If an observer was agreed to, the appointment would be made at the inaugural meeting of the new council following local body elections in October.


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