The Civic Theatre Complex is in the heart of the inner city of Invercargill. The imposing structure is one of Invercargill’s landmark buildings and serves as the cultural heart of the Southland community.
The Invercargill Town Hall, as it was then, was opened in 1906. The complex was built for £21,700, from a rating base of about 1300 people. The Civic Theatre Complex as it is now known, was extensively renovated at a cost of $15.8 million and officially reopened in April 2005. Originally built as municipal offices with lecture hall and theatre, connected by the dress circle staircase, the complex has seen a number of refurbishments. Renovations over the years transformed the offices and hall into function rooms at the front of the theatre, but the back of house had not been touched.
The Council made a somewhat brave decision, for a smaller city, to upgrade all aspects of the venue, enabling the complex to meet modern technical demands and ensure the comfort of patrons and guests.
Historic Places Trust architects worked with theatre consultants to ensure that the renovations kept essential historic elements and the complex now features state-of-the-art performing art facilities with unique Edwardian decor style surroundings.
The Front of House and function room areas have been extensively refurbished, and feature charming Edwardian decor while fulfilling a multitude of uses. The auditorium boasts grandiose decor in deep red with gold plasterwork. The auditorium can seat up to 1015 people and each seat has individual heating and air-conditioning vents located in the floor beneath. The backstage and dressing room block was demolished, redesigned and rebuilt to meet modern performing arts demands and now has a modern theatrical fly system, an elevating stage extension, new sound, lighting and communication systems and plenty of dressing rooms.