LISTEN to George Farrant, Heritage Manager, Auckland Council, talk about the History and Restoration of the Civic Theatre - Radio New Zealand - The Arts on Sunday
READ Historic Places Trust article on the restoration of the Civic Theatre HERE
One of the best examples of turning an "old dunger" into a money-spinner is Auckland's Civic Theatre on Queen Street. The $41.8 million put into the theatre's upgrade was well spent on intelligent design and use of space, while keeping the building's intrinsic appeal.
George Farrant, City Heritage Manager at Auckland City, says the Civic is now a huge success. "It's hard to find a time when the building hasn't got somebody or something packing in or packing out in sessions, which is tremendous," says Farrant. "This is despite the fact that big touring shows have taken a dive worldwide."
The key was ensuring the large space could be adapted to lots of different uses so that an economic event, like the decline in touring shows, would not have a negative affect.
"We gave the Civic a lot of strings to its bow," says Farrant. "We converted spaces that had been cabarets into other venues so it has a whole spectrum of used while still retaining its cinema capability. But sundry little spaces are now separate bars, separate hire spaces. They do everything from weddings to corporate bashes to product launches to all sorts of social things. The building now is pretty much humming, and people love it because of its ornate, atmospheric riches."
The success of the building provides considerable revenue to the council, through rentals and ticket sales managed by The Edge management company.
Citation from NZIA Local Award 2000. "A highly successful major restoration – of one of Auckland's best landmarks, featuring well-researched details and sympathetic finishes, in keeping with one of Auckland's most loved public buildings."