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theatre’s annual $200,000 operating grant by $190,000. Council Chief Executive Mark Wheeler says such projects are “traditionally challenging”, but the community needs to weigh up the benefits of the theatre against the cost. Over time, there will probably be a greater appreciation of how worthwhile the facility is – as with the aquatic centre and stadium, he says. Dame Kiri is thought to have attracted a number of Nelson punters, and people also travelled from Wellington and Christchurch for the performance. Better yet, one of the Councillors spoke to an audience member who said they wanted to live in Marlborough because of the theatre, says Mark. “It’s one of those things that is hard to evaluate because it’s intangible. I guess in five or 10 years we will know.” Beyond the audience members from Marlborough and elsewhere is the power the theatre gives to the Marlborough Convention Centre, says Mark, calling each of the facilities a piece in the puzzle. Having a theatre alongside the conference facility provides “pulling power” and allows for much larger events, “especially if we get the hotel as well”. In late May it was revealed the Council was speaking with developers interested in building a new hotel in Marlborough. The theatre and convention centre are key drivers for the developer, says Mark. Marlborough MP Stuart Smith says the theatre is “absolutely a community asset” and the community should have some part in funding it. The size and quality of the theatre mean Blenheim will attract shows that won’t be seen anywhere else in the Top of

‘I have seen people in there enjoying shows who have been anti-theatre.’ M P S T UA RT S M I T H

the South, drawing people to the province. “I believe there will be a significant economic impact for the region in straight-out extra nights in motels and hotels, and extra spending in cafes and restaurants.” Other benefits are harder to put a value on, says Stuart. “How do you quantify the benefit of all the opportunity that schoolchildren get in Marlborough to perform in a high-quality setting and amongst high-quality professionals? You might think I am a great fan of the theatre and you would be right. It’s a wonderful facility … I have seen people in there enjoying shows who have been anti-theatre. Maybe they are still anti the theatre, but they are going to it, which speaks volumes.” Whitehaven vineyard has sponsored what is now the Whitehaven Wine Room, which will be used for private functions. Owner Sue White says the theatre is going to be a great asset for Marlborough. “If we can get people coming, it has the potential to do so much for Blenheim ... You just have to support it, really.”

Innovative lighting solutions When the lights go on at the new ASB Theatre Marlborough, bathing the stage in spectacular hues, spare a thought for the electricians who scaled great heights to install them. Marlborough’s largest electrical business, Callahan & Martella Electrical, will this month round off their work on the facility. “This is one of the biggest jobs that has been undertaken in Marlborough for a number of years,” says Callahan & Martella Electrical co-owner Ian Martella. “As Robinson Constructions’ largest sub-contractor on the job and


also being local, what we have achieved is a feat in itself.” Callahan & Martella was selected over big city electrical contractors for the project, says Ian. “We had the home ground advantage. Blenheim’s a small town and we’re not a big contractor, but we’re really proud of the fact that we are local and got a chance to work on this local project: It’s great to have a little guy doing a big job.” Although Callahan & Martella has tackled many large industrial projects, the theatre was uniquely challenging

because of the height at which the lights had to be installed. This required an immense amount of preparation using ingenuity and common sense based on years of experience in the trade. The result is immensely satisfying for Ian. “Given my propensity for lighting design, to be able to work with the architects and achieve the result with the lighting that is truly spectacular, it is stunning. To be involved in this, a world-class design, is something I’m very proud of.”

Wild Tomato August 2016  
Wild Tomato August 2016  

WildTomato is Nelson & Marlborough's magazine. We focus on inspiring journalism, stunning photography and beautiful design. http://www.wil...