Fresh start for cinema as council clears debt

Fresh start for cinema as council clears debt

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Hawera Cinema 2 Trust received a much-needed boost when it was told the South Taranaki District Council (STDC) has agreed to wipe $68,000 of debt which has accumulated over the last four years.

On top of that the Council has also agreed to write off $34,000 in outstanding rent and $3,500 for staff training which the Trust owes the Council.

STDC Mayor, Ross Dunlop says the decision to clear the Trust’s debt was made so that creditors could be paid and the cinema’s doors stayed open.

However the Council’s assistance came with strings attached; including the requirement that council will consult with the public regarding potential future support.  Other conditions relate to the Council having a greater role in the trust’s governance and finances as well as having an appointed council representative on the trust and regular updates on Trust accounts so the council can maintain a close oversight on expenditure.

Mayor Dunlop says ideally he would rather private enterprise run the cinema, but the reality is, for a district the size of South Taranaki, it would always be a marginal operation.

“The Cinema is an important community asset which serves a wide section of the South Taranaki community - over the last five years has averaged 50,000 paying customers so it is still one of our most popular facilities,” he says.

“Keeping the cinema open is about ensuring South Taranaki remains an attractive place to live and raise a family.  We simply must maintain quality, affordable facilities in the district in order to attract new residents and retain existing ones,” says Mr Dunlop.

Former Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Chair and recently elected Trust Chairperson Shona Glentworth says the cinema is a great community facility which the town should retain.

“People who go out of town to go to the movies will also take other spending out of town. We have struggled with debt accumulated over the four years of operation and we are grateful to the council for their support. We can now focus on moving forward,” she says.

Mrs Glentworth says the Trust is also implementing two key initiatives which will reduce the financial risk in the future.

“We need to attract a major sponsor and some additional funding, particularly for keeping equipment up to date, and we are also working on setting up a team of volunteers who can assist with events, at busy times and with promotional activities. Anyone who would like to volunteer is welcome to contact the cinema to find out more,” she says.

Mayor Dunlop says the debt will be funded fromlast year’s operational savingsso there won’t be any additional impact on rates.

Public consultation on future Council support for the cinema is expected to take place in August or September this year.