Trust hoping for council ‘yes’ on hub

Bated breath . . . South Canterbury Museum Development Trust chairman John Simpson is hoping for the green light for the heritage hub so fundraising can continue. PHOTO: CONNOR HALEY

Plans to raise $3 million for high-quality museum exhibition technology in a new heritage hub are awaiting the green light.

The South Canterbury Museum Development Trust set itself a $3m target to raise funds towards the fit-out of the new exhibition space in the proposed heritage hub adjacent to Stafford St’s Theatre Royal.

The heritage hub would house an atrium museum and exhibition space and would flow through to the theatre.

Trust chairman John Simpson said the trust was in full support of the development, and was hoping the Timaru District Council would give the project the green light next week.

‘‘Our role is working to help raise $3m to fund the development of high-quality local heritage exhibitions in the new museum.’’

Mr Simpson said the trust had already approached various organisations and had achieved $2m in pledges and money in hand already.

Trustees had sought prices from people who had carried out museum fit-outs in New Zealand, but were also aiming to use local firms as much as possible.

‘‘There has been a lot of generous support from a range of local organisations and individuals, and that’s enabled us to go out there and say we have two-thirds of our target.’’

However, with the proposed development stalled while the council sought further information, Mr Simpson said the trust had been reluctant to go any further with its fundraising efforts until the project was confirmed.

The trust had been a major supporter of the South Canterbury Museum since 1997, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for improvements, including the extension and enhanced exhibition space at the current Perth St building.

Mr Simpson said trustees were aware of the significant cost of the project and concerns about the impact on rates.

‘‘This is potentially the biggest project undertaken by the Timaru District Council for a number of years.

‘‘It’s [the cost] significant, we understand that, and only the council can tell us if we can afford it, but it’s an investment in our future, in the region’s future.

‘‘We want to make it a special place, and make sure it’s something people can feel good about, feel proud of.’’

Mr Simpson said it was important for communities to have places to gather, and be entertained.

The current museum was built in 1966, so had served the community for nearly 60 years.

‘‘We don’t do these things every other year. Generations to come will be those who will benefit most.

‘‘If we don’t support these kinds of things and those generations coming through, then the whole concept of inclusive facilities in our community, they will be gone.’’