Regent close to target; go ahead likely

The Otago Theatre Trust has all but raised the $2 million it needs for a major upgrade of the Regent Theatre, with the Dunedin City Council poised to approve the project today.

The trust has taken its fundraising effort to $1.6 million, a result Otago Theatre Trust chairman Michael Shield said was a "real thrill".

The council will meet today to discuss the budget for the next financial year, and a report from community life general manager Graeme Hall said the fundraising was sufficiently advanced for the project to proceed.

Last May, the trust asked the council to help fund what it described as an urgent $6.8 million upgrade.

It said at the time outdated technical resources at thetheatre meant productions could bypass Dunedin for Invercargill or Oamaru, as it could no longer meet technical or safety aspects of stage production.

The council agreed to fund almost $4.8 million if the trust raised $2 million.

Mr Hall's report said a funding request to the Lottery Grants Board for $750,000 - which would take the funding total to $2.35 million - could not be gained until both building and resource consents had been obtained.

"Therefore, this significant funding source is not able to be actioned in any part until after the council finally commits to the project and consents are obtained."

He said there was little risk the trust would fall short of the target considering the progress it had made.

The trust late last week received news of funding from the Alexander McMillan Trust of $250,000, taking the figure to just over $1.6 million.

Mr Shield said the news was "a real thrill; it really is".

"It's a fantastic point to get to after what seems quite a short period of time."

He said the trust would keep fundraising.

Mr Hall's report gave an achievable total for fundraising of $2.5 million.

Mr Shield said if that was raised, extra work would be carried out at the theatre.

Allied Press communities editor Helen Speirs, in charge of The Star newspaper's "Help Save the Regent" campaign, said the news was "just fantastic" for the theatre, and the artistic and cultural life of Dunedin.

"I would like to thank the trusts, all the Dunedin and Otago people, businesses and organisations that have contributed to the project."

See Thursday's Star for more coverage.



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