Wellington City Council has announced an innovative facility in the central city, where the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) will move while earthquake works are completed on the St James Theatre.
From 2018, a ‘pop-up’ or prefabricated building to be erected at the Michael Fowler Carpark will be the new home of the RNZB. The location and design of the structure will give greater connection between the city and the ballet in an expanded creative hub.
Following RNZB’s return to the St James Theatre, the Council has the option to repurpose the structure for community or commercial use, including at other sites.
Earlier plans were to house RNZB at the Council-owned Te Whaea building in Newtown, which also houses the NZ School of Dance and Drama. However following a public tender process, the costs came in at $5.4-$6 million dollars, some $2m over budget. In contrast, the pop-up structure will come within the budget.
Mayor Justin Lester says the departure from earlier plans to house the RNZB is an investment in the city’s arts and culture, while being prudent to ratepayer.
‘The ballet has had a long history in the central city, and the Council is eager to retain that’
The Mayor acknowledged the Council staff’s role in creating the ‘out of the box’ option.
Frances Turner from the RNZB says, “While we are disappointed not to have the opportunity to have shared the same facility as our friends at the New Zealand School of Dance, we are pleased that WCC have been able to come up with a creative way of temporarily re-housing the RNZB. We are also pleased that the pop up facility will be able to be a long-term investment for Wellington City. Regardless of our location we will continue our close association with the New Zealand School of Dance to support the training of young dancers.”