19 December 2011

$14 million funding boost to rebuild Christchurch Arts Centre

The Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust (CEAT) has today announced $14 million of funding for the Christchurch Arts Centre, to be used towards the rebuild of the Clock Tower and the Great Hall.

The Arts Centre gift will be contributed by Fletcher Building ($4 million), the Aotearoa Foundation ($5 million), and the Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Building Fund ($5 million). John Griffin, President of Blue Ridge Capital is also supporting the project.

Fletcher Building Chief Executive Jonathan Ling says, ‘From the outset we have been keen to support the restoration of an iconic Christchurch building. This project will return a much loved landmark to the city and should prove a huge boost for the people of Christchurch”.

The Aotearoa Foundation is an affiliate of the Robertson Foundation, a private foundation in the United States begun by investor and philanthropist Julian Robertson. Mr Robertson said, “The Christchurch Arts Centre is an icon of history and culture. We are thrilled to be a part of this important project to rebuild Christchurch."

The Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Building Fund’s (CEHBF) contribution for this project is being provided by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage in a matched funding arrangement with CEAT.

CEHBF Chair Anna Crighton says “The Arts Centre is the anchor of the cultural precinct in Christchurch. These beautifully crafted stone neo-Gothic buildings are internationally recognised treasures.  The restoration of these buildings is a fitting tribute to the original craftsmen and reaffirms its role as a treasured landmark and cultural centre.”

Arts Centre Director Ken Franklin is delighted that this funding has enabled the project to get underway. “The Clock Tower and adjoining Great Hall Building are the most well known and most admired buildings on the site. Their restoration upholds the Arts Centre as a base for entertainment, education and vitality for Cantabrians and visitors alike.”

“We have applied $21 million from our insurance recoveries to date, however the project will cost around $35 million. This exceptional donation will enable us to cover the shortfall.”

The Christchurch Arts Centre Trust is responsible for administering and conserving in perpetuity the old university site. This rebuild project is expected to take close to three years to complete, but repairs to all of the buildings on the site could cost in excess of $200 million and take close to 15 years to complete.

Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trustee Dr Rod Carr says “The Arts Centre is iconic to Canterbury. The Clock Tower has a particularly significant heritage value as the first stone building in the original collection of buildings in the complex, which was the home of the University of Canterbury for nearly a century.”

“Designed by pre-eminent Gothic Revival architect, Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort, the Clock Tower was completed in 1877. The Great Hall, which opened in 1882, has hosted educational, social, cultural and recreational activities for the people of Christchurch and it will continue to do so in years to come.”

“The Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust is very pleased to help get this project underway. This grant is only possible because of the generosity of donors who were very keen to see the Arts Centre back up and running as soon as possible.”