Contribution essential to theatre’s future

Gore’s St James Theatre is struggling to meet the cost of a $1,290,000 upgrade project. PHOTO:...
Gore’s St James Theatre is struggling to meet the cost of a $1,290,000 upgrade project. PHOTO: VALU MAKA
Only the Gore District Council can stop the curtain falling on the St James Theatre, councillors heard on Tuesday.

Gore and Districts St James Theatre trustee Yvonne Bannerman asked for money at an extraordinary council meeting to hear public submissions on the 2021-31 long-term plan.

In the best-case scenario the trust would need $137,000 from the council, assuming it also received money from two other funding applications.

"Without Gore District Council support, the St James Theatre will inevitably close," she said.

Fundraising had stagnated on a planned $1,290,000 upgrade project to improve the theatre and address compliance issues.

"We have exhausted all avenues of funding."

There was also a risk some grants would expire if not used within a set timeframe, she said.

The project included seismic strengthening, installing lift and accessible toilets, and partial reroofing.

"We run the risk of this project not going ahead and the impact of that on our community will be huge."

The theatre

held 2800 film screenings a year and hosted national as well as local stage productions.

Also among the 13 submitters was Sport Southland, whose

representative, Gemma O’Neill, asked the council to adopt the Southland regional spaces and places strategy and give $10,000 annually for three years to help fund it.

Not all the requests made were financial.

Murihiku Kai Collective representative Stella O’Connor asked the council to support the group’s aim of helping Southlanders produce and access good food.

Support would mean attending workshops and applying a "food lens" across council work, she said.

"[For example] where possible and practical you procure from local providers."

The council received 154 written submissions on the long-term plan.

Many submissions were public feedback forms and some who filled out a form spoke at the meeting.

Ian Cupit criticised the council for its rates increase of 8.22% for the first year of the plan, breaching its 5% increase cap.

"Will that occur next year and the year after and the year after?"

Gore had an ageing population who would struggle to afford this, he said.

- By Fiona Ellis

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