One man's pitch to turn Founders Theatre into Children's Museum

With public consultation now open on Hamilton City Council's 10-Year-Plan, one man is eager to share his opinion on the uncertainty surrounding Founders Theatre.

Bruce Cresswell plans to take his pitch for a Founders Children's Museum to the council this month.

The theatre has been closed for safety reasons since March 2016 and councillors had previously talked about three options: complete demolition, partial demolition and re-use, or reinstating for an alternative community use.

Cresswell believes his idea to revive Founders would cash in $4.14m a year.

Using an "aeroplane pricing" model, annual revenue brought in from entrance fees would amount to $1.4m, he said.

This means charging certain rates for certain times of the day.

Differing rates could also extend to visitors and locals, he said.

"The current consideration for Founders is to bulldoze it, full stop," Cresswell said.

"Any other thinking is dependant on the new [Waikato Regional] theatre."

The core document Cresswell wants to pitch to the council lists plans to increase the number of visitors to the CBD, reduce the need to upgrade Garden Place, add value to attracting families to the planned Victoria residential development, leverage visitors from Auckland when the new commuter services commence, and focus on the attraction of the Waikato River.

But one thing Cresswell doesn't want Founders to be is a theatre.

"Founders is a heritage building built 50 years ago and people want to keep Hamilton's heritage. I want to keep Founders as is - just without the theatre seats," he said.

"There are too many seats for shows in Hamilton, therefore theatres begin to compete with themselves. Having seats at Founders is just another competition to the success of any other theatre in town."

He also believes council should scrap plans for an upgraded Garden Place, allowing the $4m set aside for the renovation to be used on other projects - such as a funding examination into the Children's Museum.

If Cresswell's plan was accepted by the council, Hamilton residents could have a place that offers a hands-on exploration of culture, language, mathematics, music, history, geography, and art.

It would be a place for educational resources for school field trips and lead on to volunteer opportunities to local communities, high school students and senior citizens in the form of exhibit guides.

The Children's Museum could also be a place for travelling exhibitions, special lecture series, and unique collections, as stated in the core document.


Bruce Cresswell believes his idea to revive Founders Theatre would cash in $4.14m a year.