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Lift? ...Excited by the prospect of a new lift in the St James Theatre (portrayed by this cardboard cutout) are (from left) theatre manager Paul McPhail and Gore and Districts St James Theatre Trust trustees Yvonne Bannerman, Craig McIntyre and Doug Grant. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

St James Theatre strengthening, new lift project

Fundraising for the new lift and seismic strengthening for the St James Theatre is beginning in earnest.

About $690,000 will be needed to complete the project.

The theatre is overseen by five trustees from different community groups who are part of the Gore and Districts St James Theatre Trust.

Trustee Yvonne Bannerman said the project had been on the trust’s agenda for a long time but now plans for the project had been drawn up.

“Plans are under way to make this happen and we need the community’s help to raise funds.

“It has taken us 10 years to get to this stage,” Mrs Bannerman said.

The theatre had an important role to play in the community.

“It’s our vision statement to have a state-of-the-art facility for Gore and districts to continue to make it a vibrant place to live and work.

“We would not have rural city living if we did not have a theatre.”

Mrs Bannerman understood the St James was one of two theatres in New Zealand that hosted both live shows and movies.

A cardboard cutout of the proposed lift, provided by Sign Advertising’s Jim Marshall, had been placed in the theatre to give the public an idea of where the lift would be positioned.

Mrs Bannerman was in the process of applying for funding and had secured $170,000 so far from Community Trust South, Transpower and Gore Pakeke Lions Club.

The plan was to start the work in 2020.

“We need the funds in the bank before we can start.”

Trustee Craig McIntyre said two-thirds of the building had already been strengthened when the fly tower was built in 2008.

“We’ve already done a fair chunk of the structural work.

“It’s not like we are starting from ground work,” Mr McIntyre said.

The tower enabled the use of modern lighting rigs and the handling of large objects such as sets and backdrops, and would stop the building from moving north to south during an earthquake.

“The structural work .. in the front section will stop the building rocking sideways.”

The building at present was 70% compliant with the building code.

“We’ve checked the front section of the building and this what we are required to do to bring the front section and the whole building over 90% of code.”

The lift would make the upstairs more accessible for the public.

“We haven’t been against putting a lift in, we just haven’t had the money to do it and that is what we are working towards now,” Mr McIntyre said.

The lift and seismic strengthening were part of a five-stage project to upgrade the theatre.

The total project was expected to cost about $850,000.

If anyone would like to make a donation towards the cost of the project, please contact St James Theatre manager Paul McPhail.