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High profile ambassadors support proposed arts facility

The Wānaka App

Sue Wards

02 May 2024, 8:32 AM

High profile ambassadors support proposed arts facilityAn artist’s impression of the proposed Wānaka Performance Arts and Cultural Centre.

Sir Sam Neil, Helen Clark ONZ, Justine Cormack DMA, Rima Te Wiata MNZM and Sir Ian Taylor are the new ambassadors for the proposed Wānaka Performance Arts and Cultural Centre project.

Plans for the proposed facility include a 500-seat performing arts theatre, a smaller 120 seat rehearsal theatre/dance studio, and a visual arts gallery and foyer space to allow for functions and conferences. 

The line up of ambassadors was revealed to Queenstown Lakes District councillors yesterday (Thursday May 2) at a lunch with the Wānaka Arts Centre Trust (WACT).

WACT chair Michael Sidey told the Wānaka App the trust had put in a lot of work and secured “high quality ambassadors” for the project. 

“The response I think was very positive,” he said.

Michael said WACT has asked QLDC to gift a site for the facility.

“If they gift us the site we know then we have a project they are interested in,” he said.

WACT intends to fundraise $30M for the project and to ask council for $40M.

‘High quality’ ambassadors supporting the project are Sir Sam Neil, Helen Clark ONZ, Justine Cormack DMA, Rima Te Wiata MNZM and Sir Ian Taylor. 

Michael would not be drawn on the preferred site for the proposed facility, telling the Wānaka App it was a greenfield site and the number one choice from sites investigated (an investigation which considered site ownership, legal status and zoning, size, prominence, access, proximity to restaurant and cafés, and more).

The top sites identified included two sites at Three Parks, the A&P showgrounds, Lismore Park, and Eely Point. Golf Course Corner was also considered but was no longer an option, Michael said.

Councillor Lyal Cocks attended the presentation and said it was “great to meet the trustees”.

“It was an excellent presentation and the other councillors I spoke to were suitably impressed the project was already well down track,” he said.

Lyal said he preferred a greenfields site at Three Parks for the facility “as it was co-located with other community facilities and infrastructure such as car parking”.

The presentation said Wānaka (home to 17,000 permanent residents) is a regional hub in the process of building a strong infrastructure for growth, and its population is projected to grow to  more than 50,000 within 20 years.


“A feasibility study focusing on financial viability completed by Horwath HTL concluded that a  Performing and Visual Arts and Culture facility was viable,” it said.

“We have the opportunity now to showcase and offer multiple options for leisure, cultural  education, entertainment and growth, for the future of our region, our country and the world.”


IMAGES: Supplied