Kaikoura’s Mayfair Theatre, closed since the 2016 earthquake, will be demolished this month to make way for a multi-purpose arts centre.
Its 1930s art deco facade will be preserved, however, to provide the entrance way to the new complex.
Kaikoura Community Theatre Inc. president John Wyatt says the demolition of the badly damaged building marks a big step in the psycho-social recovery of Kaikoura, nearly two years after the quake.
He says the opportunity was now being taken to create “something really positive” for the community following the isolation and despair of the quake.
The new centre will allow the community to host a variety of events and concerts, and show movies once again.
The theatre was still operating a reel-to-reel projector until a community fundraising campaign in 2012 raised more than $100,000 for digital technology.
Mr Wyatt says the decision to move quickly to decide the fate of the theatre was made soon after the quakes, as it was important the theatre continued to offer a stage to “entertain, inspire, educate and inform the community once more”.
“It was not economically viable to repair the existing structure, so we committed to saving the facade and incorporating it into a new facility.”
“It was about bringing stability and hope back to our community and creating something we could all be proud of,” he says.
Te Runanga o Kaikoura, the Kaikoura District Council and archaeologist Deb Foster helped the project to proceed swiftly.
The theatre is expected to reopen in Spring 2020 in time for the theatre’s 50th anniversary of community ownership.
“When you consider there is no facility like this for some 50km in each direction of Kaikoura, having the theatre returned to community use and expanded to meet multiple needs is absolutely vital.”
We know from the evidence that having a space for organised entertainment or the arts generally is important for community connectedness and wellbeing,” Mr Wyatt says.
The original single-screen Mayfair Theatre was built in 1934 and came under community ownership in 1970.
All Right? Kaikoura health promoter Rachel Vaughan says the theatre holds an important place in people’s hearts, and progress in rebuilding it will give the community a boost.
“We lost a lot in the quakes and our community and coastline will never be the same.
“Having the Mayfair back, and even stronger than before, will send a really strong signal about our community’s recovery.” Rachel says.