The building, on Council land in the middle of the Karori Community Facilities precinct, will be completed and gifted to the Council by the Karori Community Hall Trust, with dance company Footnote New Zealand Dance becoming a day-time tenant.
Mayor Andy Foster says completing the Event Centre and Footnote’s move to Karori will together “breathe a whole lot of life” into the area.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the City, for Karori and for Footnote and I’m delighted it’s been approved. The future of the building is something the Council needed to resolve because it’s is on our land, and we couldn’t leave it incomplete and unusable.
“It will play a part towards the city’s economic, social and cultural recovery. It will provide Footnote with a quality new home in time for the end of their old rental.
“Footnote will use the Events Centre during the day during the week except when on tour. The centre will be available for community use in the evening and weekends, and during weekdays when Footnote is on tour, which will be a great asset for all residents. Bookings will be managed by Karori Community Centre.
“I would like to personally pay tribute to the past and present trustees who have worked tirelessly to see this project through. It has been a long hard road, and today’s decision has finally ensured the Events Centre will soon be open.”
Since 2009, the Karori Community Hall Trust has raised $2.8 million from lotteries grants and local fundraising, including the Council contributing $920,000 ($610,000 from the St John’s Hall land sale, and a $310,000 grant) towards development of the event centre building.
In January 2018 the base build was completed, which created a secure, weathertight building. This was done to ensure the Trust used the grant and donation money that would have otherwise expired and was completed under budget. The Trust approached the Council in 2019 asking for funding to complete the building and Council has been working with the trustees exploring options since then.
The City Council’s Community Facilities Portfolio Leader, Councillor Rebecca Matthews, says if the Council hadn’t agreed to this course of action then the building could have remained unfinished and empty. “The Trust had exhausted its key funding channels and has been unable to complete the building without help from the Council. This is fantastic news for everyone concerned, particularly the numerous community groups who will benefit from utilising the facility in evenings and at weekends.”
Footnote Dance General Manager Richard Aindow says the organisation is excited at the prospect of rehoming itself in Karori. “We have been searching for a new home in Wellington that meets our needs as a national arts organisation for several years; the Karori Event Centre will be a fantastic base for Footnote.
“We acknowledge that members of the Karori community have been invested in this project for years as well, so we can’t wait to welcome them and the whole arts community into this new space."
Karori Community Hall Trust Deputy Chair Heather Baldwin says “the Karori Event Centre is going to be a great asset for Karori and Wellington. Our community are very keen to have it finished. We are delighted the Council has approved this proposal, ensuring the Event Centre will be open at the beginning of next year for us all to use at last.”
The Council has also agreed to take over the annual $95,000 operating cost of running the centre as a community hall.