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War Memorial Theatre Redevelopment

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War Memorial Theatre Redevelopment

War Memorial TheatreThe War Memorial Theatre Gisborne Trust raised $5.35 million for the theatre redevelopment.  Gisborne District Council has committed $4.20m towards the redevelopment.  The final cost was approximately $9.6m.

Read the media release - $750,000 Lotteries Grant ...read more

Why the time came for an upgrade

Field of Poppies Lighting Feature


The War Memorial Theatre was recognised as the 'only theatre suitable for large scale productions' in Gisborne. However, after nearly 40 years and countless performances, time was catching up.

Every area of the building was upgraded and fully earthquake strengthened to create a modern, safe, functional theatre. The redeveloped building includes a new fly-tower and glass foyer area designed to create an up-to-date feel while retaining the iconic modernist design. The stage is bigger and the auditorium remodelled to seat up to 500.

Backstage a new scene dock, fly-rigging and additional dressing rooms will bring bigger, more technical shows to Gisborne. In the foyer a cafe/bar adds to the modern, comfortable surroundings and creates the best possible theatre experience.

Artist impression

However, the War Memorial Theatre is first and foremost a community venue. Our community theatre - dance and music groups are able to stage their shows in modern up-to-date facilities. 

Read the War Memorial Theatre Gisborne Trust Annual Report year ended 30 June 2014 (1mb)

3D virtual walk through

Donations and sponsors supported the upgrade

Donations to the upgrade of the War Memorial Theatre was an investment in our community and to ensuring that "the show will go on" for the War Memorial Theatre.

Naming rights

For our major sponsors we are offered naming rights to the main auditorium, the foyer and the field of poppies lighting feature.

Major gifts

Platinum - donors of $15,000 and above
Gold - donors of $10,000 to $14,999
Silver - donors of $5,000 to $9,999
Other donations of non-specified amounts.

A "Seat in History"Seating at redeveloped theatre

We had wonderful support from our community and all the seat plaques were sold.

War Memorial Theatre Gisborne Trust

Read the Annual Report of the War Memorial Theatre Gisborne Trust (1mb) 

History of the War Memorial Theatre 

Originally built in 1957 by the RSA, the War Memorial Theatre Hall as it was known played host to countless dances, concerts, balls and even a wedding or two.

At this time Gisborne was a show town boasting no less than 3 picture houses as well as a theatre in the form of the Opera House.  However, in the mid-1960s as television took over it was inevitable that tastes would change - and they did.

By 1968 Gisborne had lost its Opera House to the wrecking ball. Dances were on the decline and as audiences dwindled the future of the War Memorial Hall was uncertain.

Luckily in 1973 a reprieve came. The community realised that it needed a theatre. A committee was formed and fundraising began to convert the War Memorial Hall into a theatre.  By 1975 the work was completed and the War Memorial Theatre was born.

Forty years later - in 2013 the theatre underwent a major redevelopment that you see today.