Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says Hawke’s Bay Opera House in Hastings will receive $4 million in funding for seismic strengthening from the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund.

“The Opera House is an important venue for touring performers and this major investment, announced in Hastings by Prime Minister Bill English today, will help future-proof it as a cultural hub for the Hawke’s Bay region,” Ms Barry says.

“The Opera House survived the 1931 Hawkes Bay earthquake but has been closed since 2014 when found to be an earthquake risk and the Government’s grant is contingent on the Hastings District Council ensuring the seismic strengthening work achieves a minimum of 75 per cent of the current New Building Standard.”

“The council also needs to raise some additional funding but I am confident this will be achieved so it can attract further arts, cultural and heritage events to Hawkes Bay. A reopened theatre represents a wonderful economic opportunity.”

Ms Barry also acknowledged the advocacy of Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule and outgoing local MP Craig Foss.

The Opera House has national significance as a Category One Heritage Site.

This grant is the first to be announced in the second round of the Government’s Regional Culture and Heritage Fund (RCHF).  More announcements will occur in coming weeks.

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Note for editors:

Hawke’s Bay Opera House, previously known as Hastings Municipal Theatre, opened in 1915. Seating 1600 people the theatre is an important example of the work of eminent Australasian theatre designer Eli White with its Spanish Mission style and Art Nouveau interior, including a hand-painted ceiling. The Regional Culture and Heritage Fund (RCHF) was established in 2016 with $29.527 million for allocation over three years to help fund capital projects benefitting regional arts, culture and heritage institutions. These regional institutions attract the economic and social benefits of new visitors, businesses and residents to New Zealand’s smaller towns and cities. The first funding round for the RCHF resulted in $13.878 million of grants to six projects. These projects included major seismic strengthening and refit projects at the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui ($10million) and the Nelson School of Music’s public auditorium ($1.5 million); and completion of the Eastern Southland Gallery’s Muka Studio Wing at its new Arts Centre in Gore ($110,000)

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