Theatre bid for funding declined

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Grounded...Gore and Districts St James Theatre Trust member Doug Grant and chairman Craig McIntyre are disappointed a funding application for the remaining $120,000 needed for the theatre’s redevelopment project was turned down by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

The Gore and Districts St James Theatre Trust has come to a roadblock in its efforts to raise the last $120,000 for its redevelopment project.

The lift, seismic strengthening and upgrade of the women’s toilets are part of a project to improve the 84-year-old theatre.

The trust applied to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s regional culture and heritage fund for the $120,000, but the application was declined.

While it was a setback, the trust was committed to the project, chairman Craig McIntyre said.

“We’ll have to go back to the drawing board to find a way to fund the gap in the project,” he said.

The trust had received very good support from the community and other funders to raise $615,000.

“We have got so much money and have come this far now, it would be a shame to abandon our aspirations at this late a stage, but that could be on the cards.”

However, “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings”.

Theatre manager Paul McPhail said it was disappointing the application had been declined, as the money would have finished the fundraising for the much-needed lift.

“I feel sorry for my customers who find the stairs difficult, and this development would have made it more accessible to everyone with any mobility issues,” Mr McPhail said.

The trust was now looking for other ways to raise the rest of the money.

In the letter declining the application, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Grant Robertson said the redevelopment did not meet the criteria for the funding.

“For your project to have been assessed as eligible and a funding priority in this round, your application would need to have demonstrated that this building would be used primarily as a high-quality performing arts venue.

“As acknowledged in your application these premises are primarily used as a cinema with occasional use as a touring performance venue.”