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At last, a Music Centre partnership

by Lindsay Shelton
It’s been a long time coming, but at last Victoria University has committed to join a partnership (with the City Council and the NZSO) for a Music Centre to be based in and around the Town Hall.

In its announcement yesterday, we learnt much more about the plan than the council has so far told us.

For example: the Municipal Building has been earmarked for teaching and administrative space both for the university’s Music School and for the NZSO, which has long been committed to the plan.

And also:

Because of the significant costs involved in the second stage of development … the University and the NZSO will require a successful fundraising campaign to raise at least 16% of the overall cost of the project through philanthropic and partnership financial support, with the University and the NZSO meeting the remainder of the second stage development costs….Former Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast, a Victoria University of Wellington Foundation Trustee, is Fundraising Chair.

Kerry Prendergast’s support for the Town Hall has long been known. As Arts Festival chair, she twice called for it to be reopened. And in yesterday’s announcement she says:

“I have always been passionate about the Town Hall. It has amazing acoustics and to know that it’s going to be strengthened, restored and turned into the focal point of a national centre of musical excellence, with the NZSM and the NZSO as foundation tenants, is really exciting.”

The music hub has been a long time coming. It was announced by the council back in 2014. It was then described as part of a Civic Centre Precinct Plan to “breathe new life into Civic Square.” The NZSO was quick to commit, but the university was cautious. When Athfields were chosen in 2015 to develop concept plans, the university was still uncertain, saying:

“The concept designs will be pivotal as we explore the feasibility of partnering with Wellington to create a renewed vision of education, music and creative arts excellence for the benefit of the entire community…”

But yesterday’s announcement at last brings the university into the partnership. A decision which has been welcomed by the NZSO:

NZSO Chief Executive Christopher Blake says the NZSO is very pleased that Victoria University has confirmed its support for this groundbreaking venture. “The concept to bring together the NZSO and NZSM will produce a huge range of opportunities and benefits for musicians, students and audiences.”

2013: First vote to save the Town Hall
2015: Second vote to save the Town Hall.

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