War Memorial Theatre

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The biggest grant in the Trust's history, a $3 million grant for the redevelopment of the War Memorial Theatre, will allow existing arts and cultural enterprise to flourish, and will enable the region to attract, hold and expand its recreational and cultural profile.

ECT chose to support the project because it demonstrated a clear vision - delivering a clear point of difference and adding value to the region’s offering as a great place to live, work and play.

"The ECT commitment recognised the importance of the War Memorial Theatre redevelopment to the Gisborne community. The early indication of a $3 million grant was hugely instrumental in the subsequent success of fundraising activities.

“With ECT behind the project other philanthropic organisations, and the wider community, had the confidence to contribute to the current $5.1 million,” says Pat Seymour chairman of the War Memorial Theatre Trust and Gisborne district councillor.

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.

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.

The War Memorial Theatre Gisborne Trust should be congratulated on their vision and their commitment to the cause. They have not only created a community asset, but a legacy of which we can all be proud.


History of the 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. However, by 1968 audiences were dwindling and the future of the War Memorial Hall was uncertain. In 1973 a reprieve came when 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.

However, after nearly 40 years and countless performances, time was catching up and the deteriorating building was no longer fit for purpose. The redevelopment that you see today was born from a desire to retain a meaningful arts and cultural space for our community.