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Circa Theatre signs agreement with Te Papa ahead of planned renovations

Wellington waterfront neighbours Te Papa and Circa Theatre are joining forces to collaborate commercially and creatively.

Creating a thriving cultural precinct on Wellington's waterfront is at the heart of a newly signed partnership between two of the city's artistic institutions.

Circa Theatre and Te Papa have signed a memorandum of understanding in order to further collaborate commercially and creatively.

"We are not just neighbours in proximity, we also share the same goals in wanting to develop a cultural hub in the waterfront space," Te Papa chief executive Rick Ellis said.

Circa will be undergoing renovations later this year, with the aim of brightening its foyer area and exposing views of the waterfront. Its box office may be temporarily shifted to Te Papa while the work is done.

"It makes sense to have a closer working arrangement."

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Te Papa already manages the Circa Theatre bar, and the newly signed agreement would allow for further resource sharing, particularly with big changes on the horizon for the 40-year-old theatre.


Te Papa and Circa "share the same goals in wanting to develop a cultural hub in the waterfront space" Te Papa chief executive Rick Ellis said.

"With our building renovations due to begin later this year, this unique partnership marks an exciting period for the theatre," Circa co-founder and council member Carolyn Henwood said.

Circa sales and marketing manager Shalesh Vasan said no firm date had been set for renovations to begin, but the intention was "sooner rather than later", and almost certainty before the end of the year.

"It will primarily be a foyer renovation and won't require the theatre to be closed, but the bathrooms be moved and the the whole middle section removed to make it a lot more light and spacious.

Creating a thriving cultural precinct on the waterfront is at the heart of the newly signed partnership.

"We want to get out of that whole gloomy stuffy theatre thing, and make it more inviting, and expose more of that waterfront view."

Most of the work would take place outside of theatre hours, but Vasan said the new partnership with Te Papa could open up avenues for additional space should the theatre require it during the renovation.

"Once we know exactly the full extent of what needs to be done, we'll look at the potential in terms of working with Te Papa, possibly around the temprary relocation of the box office."