Victoria University of Wellington favours leasing Municipal Office Building for national music centre

Victoria University of Wellington has confirmed its commitment to relocating the University’s world-class music school in central Wellington.

The University’s Council has expressed its preference to lease the Municipal Office Building, which adjoins the Wellington Town Hall, to enable the second stage of the creation of a nationally significant centre of musical excellence. The centre is intended to house both the University’s New Zealand School of Music–Te Kōkī (NZSM) and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO).

Discussions are underway with Wellington City Council (WCC) and NZSO to negotiate the collaborative use of the Municipal Office Building.

This follows the recent signing of a binding but conditional agreement between the University, NZSO and WCC to redevelop the Town Hall as a centre for civic events and the heart of the national music centre. Construction work is due to start shortly on the Town Hall.

Leasing the Municipal Office Building will allow the national music centre to encompass performance, teaching and administrative spaces. The University aims to provide downtown facilities that will build on the best aspects of NZSM–its high quality programmes and internationally recognised staff.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Grant Guilford, says that the location of the centre will allow for exciting interactions between the NZSM and the public, as well as Wellington’s other creative organisations. “With a location in Te Ngākau Civic Square, the NZSM and NZSO could not be better placed to increase the visibility and impact of music within Wellington, and in turn contribute to enlivening the city centre.

The new centre will enable NZSM to bring together all of its programmes in a single location, says Professor Sally Jane Norman, Director of the NZSM. “Our jazz and classical performance students, voice artists and instrumentalists, composers, sonic artists, musicologists, technology developers and music therapists will all share the new facilities. This will provide a seeding ground for innovation and creativity, which will be hugely beneficial for the arts in New Zealand.”

The negotiations are expected to be concluded in the near future.