Regional theatre wins crucial backing

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The long-awaited Waikato Regional Theatre has landed.

The region will soon be home to a world-class 1300-seat theatre, providing more local jobs and a boost for tourism thanks to a $12 million investment from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement during a visit to Hamilton.

The investment will see:
• The new 1300-seat theatre built on the former Hamilton Hotel site, overlooking Waikato River.
• A large stage, orchestra pit, and public foyer.
• $12 million from the PGF towards the $73.9 million project.
• A private project triggered by this investment – the $32 million Victoria Property Hotel.
• 300 jobs in total from both the theatre and hotel construction and operation.

Waikato Regional TheatreThe funding structure is a mix between Government, Hamilton City Council, Waikato Regional Council, and various trusts and philanthropic investors.

“The Government is making good progress on strengthening regional economies through building new infrastructure that boosts regional wellbeing,” Ardern said.

“Like many locals I have great memories of performances at the Founders Theatre. While it’s sad to have lost this venue, it’s fantastic to see a new plan developed.”

Hamilton-based Labour MP Jamie Strange said the Waikato Regional Theatre was part of the region coming of age.

He said the Provincial Growth Fund pitch had been a team effort, and said Momentum Waikato chief executive Kelvyn Eglinton deserved special praise for his strong advocacy.

Strange expected the theatre would encourage more hotels to open in the CBD.

“The economic flow-on benefits to businesses and accommodation providers will provide uplift for our whole region,” he said.

“This is part of a wider project to turn Hamilton city to face the river. It will complement the work already done, and inspire and encourage further development.”

Construction of the theatre is expected to begin in early 2020 and take two years.

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