December 21, 2011
A message from Neil Cox, General Manager, Isaac Theatre Royal (ITR), Christchurch:
CHRISTMAS 2011… WHAT A YEAR IT HAS BEEN!!
It has been a ‘long time between drinks’ so to speak, but as we approach the festive season in Christchurch at the end of this tumultuous year that will always be remembered as our city’s darkest time in its short history, it is time to look forward to relaxing and being together with families and friends and sharing that long overdue Xmas drink over a few reflections, but hopefully lots of smiles and laughter too as we look forward to a prosperous 2012 full of hope and achievement as we all work together to rebuild our lives, homes and city.
I have purposefully not inundated you with bits & pieces of ITR recovery news since we advised that the Theatre had survived and would be repaired, but opted rather to wait until we had all structural and geotechnical reports completed and were able to tell you more accurately what the future holds for our beloved Isaac Theatre Royal. Firstly, the landscape around the Theatre has changed significantly, with most of Gloucester Street between Manchester & Colombo Streets gone forever. On the positive side the new premises for The Press directly across the road from ITR is fully repaired and ready to occupy, The Marque (now Rendezvous) Hotel next to The Press is well on its way to re-opening and New Regent Street shops have also begun their repair process.
So our once vibrant little CBD ‘precinct’ came through the devastating events pretty well and will hopefully soon have people back in it once the red zone cordons are relaxed. The Theatre’s emergency securing works are now complete and plans are being compiled for the repair process to begin early in the New Year. I cannot underestimate though the extent of the works required but our timeline of early 2013 is still the realistic target date for re-opening, however we have also been working on various sectional plans to enable some parts of the Theatre to potentially be open slightly earlier than 2013 with the venue operating in a proposed ‘two-thirds mode’ with the Stalls & Dress Circle levels being open for business whilst the top level Gallery (Gods) will remain under repair. More details on whether those plans can be achieved will be known in late January, early February and as soon as we know you’ll be the first to hear…
There are also additional plans for enhancements and upgrades to certain areas with increased function space planned for the Dress Circle level, relocation of the Ticket office in the ground floor foyer as well as a complete re-fit to the public bar and foyer area of the Gallery level. We are also finally planning to install an accessibility elevator for patrons between specific levels. So there will be a lot of ‘new’ things to look forward to as well.
The major bulk of the remedial work however will be re-strengthening, repairing and re-fitting the auditorium, including replacing the stage, levelling the auditorium floors, re-fitting and tanking the orchestra pit and improving public access and exit facilities through all foyers on each level. Once completed, the Isaac Theatre Royal will once again be the toast of Christchurch as well as the safest and strongest live performance Heritage venue in New Zealand. We’ll keep you posted on the progress over the months to come as well as any specific fundraising drives over and above insurance cover that might become necessary in the months ahead to achieve all of our goals.
So we have a busy rebuild and planning year ahead at ITR, a time of recovery and collaboration that will hopefully see us dressed in our ‘Off to the Theatre’ clothes once again this time next year. All that remains is for all of us at ITR to wish all of you the very best for the festive season and new year celebrations, we will be quite relieved to ring out 2011… This time next year we will be telling you of forthcoming attractions to the newly repaired, restored, refitted and reopened ISAAC THEATRE ROYAL.
Have a great family break this Xmas holiday season. See you in 2012.
NEIL COX – General Manager