The Waikato Regional Theatre will be an impressive state-of-the-art, world-class performance venue with a stunning vista of our awa - the pride of Kirikiriroa-Hamilton and the Waikato.
Its 1300-seat auditorium will feature crystal-clear acoustics, up-close sightlines and a range of possible stage and viewing configurations, enabling it to showcase any and every kind of live performance.
This will be a nationally significant stage that will be both a springboard into performing arts careers for our young people and a drawcard bringing the world’s best entertainment to the heartland.
Imagine a new multi-purpose performing arts centre that will transform the Hamilton CBD, catalyse local creative industries and drive the Waikato’s cultural life and identity for decades to come.
Why now? Why there?
The Founders Theatre, the Waikato’s venerable flagship performance venue, was closed for safety reasons in March 2016, a loss immediately felt by the city and region. The cost of repairing this civic facility to simply reopen its doors, with no significant modernisation, was estimated at $25 million, at the limit of what the Hamilton City Council could afford.
In response the Momentum Waikato Community Foundation proposed to lead the development of a new Waikato Regional Theatre, based on Council putting up a cornerstone deposit equivalent to the cost of repairing Founders, with Momentum fundraising the balance from public, community and private sources.
The first step was to identify the best place to put it. After careful consideration of 25 potential locations, including Founders’ corner, the Hamilton Hotel site at the South End of Victoria St was chosen.
At the heart of the city’s ‘creative precinct’, this riverside block on Victoria St between Embassy Park and Sapper Moore-Jones Place, close to the Waikato Museum, ArtsPost and The Meteor, scored by far the highest in meeting the community’s established economic and cultural development aspirations.
What stage is the project at now?
Work on the Waikato Regional Theatre site got underway in October 2021 with the fencing of the block and the set up of Fosters' site office.
Demolition work is now underway, including the careful removal of heritage items from the old Hamilton Hotel. This is due to continue through the first quarter of 2022, ahead of the erection of the structural support for the Hotel's facade and the start of excavation for the foundations.