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Marlborough Civic Theatre Trust
New Theatre Project
In 1970, Blenheim's theatre, the privately owned His Majesty's, was condemned as an earthquake risk, and demolished. In 1974 the Marlborough Civic Theatre Trust was formed. Over the next 11 years it:
- Mounted a successful public appeal for $500,000 to build a new theatre in Blenheim
- Acquired the former NZ Farmers Co-op offices and retail premises in Queen Street, Blenheim.
- Engaged Sir Miles Warren to design a theatre in the supermarket section of its new property.
- Mounted a second successful public appeal for $500,000.
- In 1985, opened the Marlborough Centre, a new 460 seat theatre.
The Trust has operated the theatre successfully for 26 years, assisted by rentals from the commercial premises acquired with the theatre site. However it became clear to the Trust that the life of the theatre was limited, because of inadequacies in public access and egress, patron comfort (the seats were purchased from a closing Christchurch cinema, and are now nearly 90 years old), concerns over safety and fire hazard, and limited and out-dated theatre facilities
The new theatre project
The Trust commissioned a feasibility study The 2005 feasibility study recommended building a new theatre on the grounds that it would be difficult and very expensive to upgrade the present theatre — almost as expensive as building a new theatre — and because of space limitations, the renovated theatre would still have limited facilities.
The Trust opened discussions with the Marlborough District Council, who supported the new theatre project, and made a site available for this purpose adjacent to the Marlborough Convention Centre. Shand Shelton were appointed architects, and presented a concept plan for a new theatre on that site, with a quantity surveyed cost estimate (Rawlinsons) of $17m.
The Trust commenced fund-raising, However, the global financial crisis has intervened, The Trust is exploring all possible avenues to raise funds, as it is anxious to go to tender and commence building before the commencement of major construction in Christchurch. It has therefore, instructed the architects and engineers to continue with the preparation of working drawings, and plans to call tenders in March.
The Chairman of the Canterbury Community Trust together with local Trustees Liz Collyns and Brian More, meet with Marlborough Civic Theare Trustees and visited the site in October If the dream can come to reality Marlborough will have a magnificent community facility.