Skip to page content

About Us

Founders Theatre Future Options Consultation

In February 2016, Hamilton City Council suddenly closed the 54-year-old Founders theatre due to health and safety concerns related to its flying system and seismic strength. Hamilton City Council called for general public feedback based on three options for the future of the theatre – refurbishment of the existing facility, construction of a new theatre for the city, or demolition of the existing theatre. An engagement document outlining the issues with the theatre and the three options was distributed to the community.

Hamilton City Council requested that Creative Waikato conduct a series of focus groups with users of the facility from the local creative sector. The objective of the focus groups was to better understand the challenges and aspirations of the sector that inform their preferences for future development. Creative Waikato was selected to undertake this piece of work in the context of its role as a regional arts capability-building organisation. Its staff has expertise in group facilitation, in-depth knowledge of the sector and extensive relationships and networks within it.

Identified key groups: 
Orchestras, Choral, Theatre, Musical Theatre, Music, Youth, Toi Måori, Kapa haka, Ethnic Groups, Dance Schools. Also Front of House Staff to supplement understanding of the audience perspective. 


During the extensive public engagement process on the future of Founders Theatre, Momentum Waikato Foundation approached Hamilton City Council with an offer to work collaboratively on a new theatre for the city and region.

At its 28 July meeting, Council voted unanimously in favour of exploring the option Momentum Waikato presented, which was ‘to support a new build of an iconic world-class theatre for an estimated cost of $55 million with a Council contribution of $30million. Momentum Waikato would commit to raising the balance of $25 million, and oversee delivery of the new theatre in May 2020.’

Although Council’s contribution of $30million is yet to be signed off formally, it has committed $100,000 to creating a concept design, masterplan and business case for a new build theatre.

For the final Founders Theatre Future Options Consultation Report - Performing Arts Group Focus. Click here for report