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War Memorial Theatre

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War Memorial Theatre

Gisborne's War Memorial Theatre was officially reopened on Anzac day - Saturday 25 April 2015.  

This photo slideshow shows the original theatre built in 1954, to the redevelopment today that began on 17 June 2013.

Features of the redeveloped theatre

The upgraded theatre brings it in line with modern theatres around the country. It includes:

  • Stage size 260m2 - increased from 112m2
  • Seating capacity 500 - increased from 440
  • Foyer area 300m2 with a commercial kitchen, bar, ticketing booth, seating areas
  • Field of poppies light display to retain the war memorial aspect
  • Modern sound and lighting technology
  • Fly tower with full rigging (allows for props to be lifted up and down)
  • Electronic curtain pulley system
  • PA system linked into all dressing rooms for announcements
  • Prop storage room and loading dock
  • Grand piano room with temperature and moisture control
  • Sound and lighting control desk

Why the upgrade was needed

The old theatre only seated 420 people, many shows will only play to an audience of 500 or more. The backstage was run down, the roof leaked, the dressing rooms were poor, the uncomfortable seats, a tiny foyer and the stage was too small and the building was in need of urgent attention. The theatre needed a lot of maintenance if it was to meet acceptable health and safety standards. A rebuild on the current site was considered the most cost effective way to give the district a first class facility for many years to come.

Read more about the theatre's history and the redevelopment

Other options considered

1. Do nothing: The building would need a lot of money spent on maintenance. Otherwise it would have become increasingly run down, less touring shows would perform here and it was likely the theatre would close.

2. New theatre – new location: Council looked at building a new theatre at the Lawson Field site. This would have cost around $12m. We felt this was too expensive for the district.

The cost

  • cost - $9.6m
  • Council contribution - $4.25m
  • external funding - $5.35m

Documents and information

War Memorial Theatre Upgrade - includes existing and proposed new floor plan (756kb)

Feasibility Study prepared by Giblin + Associated Ltd, May 2011 (909kb)

More information

To hire the War Memorial Theatre