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Vero Voice

Vero stands by grand old lady

The ‘Grand Old Lady of Theatre’ as the Isaac Theatre Royal, or ITR, is fondly called, survived the September 2010 earthquake largely due to strengthening work that had been undertaken almost a decade ago.

10 December 2013

After urgent repairs, the theatre was open within four weeks but the 22 February earthquake of 2011 dealt the ITR a severe blow, putting her out of business even though she still stood tall through the surrounding devastation.

The doors to the Isaac Theatre Royal were shut on 22 February 2011 and have remained shut ever since. Subsequent quakes in June and December 2011 eventually sealed her fate.

Support from clients, patrons and international stars came flooding in as the Theatre’s Management team decided what to do next.

“We called an emergency meeting in January 2012 after the December shake had moved walls even further to concerning degrees. We decided to de-construct the auditorium to save it collapsing – we knew what we wanted to do but at that stage we weren’t sure about the costs involved,” says Neil Cox, CE of Isaac Theatre Royal.

“We called another meeting with the rebuild team specialists, our brokers and Vero representatives and we put our plans on the table. We basically said we want to rebuild, we don’t want to completely demolish such an iconic building when so much other heritage was being lost – and it could be saved,” says Neil.

Discussions had been ongoing after February 2011 as the full extent of the damage was being understood but this was the crucial meeting – there had to be a decision on what to do going forward.

“It’s important for Vero to build trust and confidence with our customers. On the commercial front, we believe we’ll have largely completed all reinstatements by the end of 2014,” says Jimmy Higgins Vero EGM Earthquake Response.

“We have a clear view of how we’re going to deal with all these properties. We have some very senior and experienced staff dealing with customers on a face to face basis and we’re able to deliver the solutions that they want,” says Jimmy.

Work has been underway at the Theatre for some months now as it continues to take new shape.

“We’re building a Theatre now that will be spectacular within New Zealand and an example around the world. The best deals come out of relationships with your business partners and collaboration to understand the end goal. The ITR Board and I regard Vero as our business partner – not just as our insurer.

“We have trust in Vero that they are working within their expertise to look after our interests and that they are keen to work with us to achieve what we want.

“The plan at this stage is to have a roof up by Christmas. That’s when the interior plaster work and the continued ceiling dome restoration can start as that important restoration and replication needs to be done in weather tight conditions.

“It’s a much loved building that has been around for over a hundred years. Our Theatre Royal deserves this and she’s stood up – mostly.

“We have an amazing opportunity but we want to do this once, do it brilliantly and make it last forever,” says Neil.

The Isaac Theatre Royal is scheduled to re-open late in 2014.

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