Auckland’s historic St James Theatre is receiving $1.5 million in government backing from the Heritage EQUIP fund for privately-owned, earthquake prone buildings.
Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says the money for seismic strengthening work will help secure this special building as a theatre venue for many years to come.
“Built in 1928, this almost 90 year old traditional theatre has significant cultural and heritage value – it’s a Category 1 building on the New Zealand Heritage List and Category A on the Auckland Unitary Plan. Its remarkable main auditorium has high quality acoustics, and the interior features statuettes and elaborate lighting,” Ms Barry says.
“The St James is very dear to the hearts of Aucklanders and it’s also significant for New Zealand as it’s one of the very few remaining buildings designed by Henry Eli White, in the Spanish colonial style, who created the St James Theatre in Wellington and the Municipal Theatre in Hastings.”
Ms Barry has acknowledged the tenacious support for the St James from Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye who has advocated tirelessly to ensure this Auckland landmark is saved for future generations.
“The independent expert advisory panel members who consider Heritage EQUIP applications report to the final decision-maker Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Executive Paul James. They’ve recognised the heritage value of the St James as well as its architectural merit,” Ms Barry says.
“The complex land ownership issues have taken some time to work through, however the St James owner is eligible to apply for Regional Culture and Heritage (RCHF) funding. The building’s owner is continuing to work with officials on an application.”
The Heritage EQUIP fund was setup in 2016 to provide support for privately-owned earthquake risk buildings so they can be preserved for future generations.
“Heritage buildings are a valuable part of the character of New Zealand, but the cost of strengthening can be prohibitive and unsustainable for private owners and that’s where this fund is intended to help,” Ms Barry says.
Today’s announcement from round two of Heritage EQUIP follows on from the announcement earlier this week, made jointly with Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith, of $94,700 in funding for Nelson’s Lambretta Café.
Further announcements will follow over the next few weeks.