St Andrew’s College opens $21m performing arts centre

12 May 2024

St Andrew's College Senior College students exiting Ngā Toi Performing Arts Centre and Gough Family Theatre.

Sunday 12 May 2024

St Andrew’s College officially opened its impressive new $21 million Ngā Toi Performing Arts Centre incorporating the Gough Family Theatre, on Sunday 12 May, with the celebrations including a stunning student performance of the hit musical Legally Blonde.

Rector Christine Leighton says the ambitious development, designed by Wilke and Bruce Architects, and constructed by Armitage Williams, is the most expensive at the College to date, and will provide unparalleled performance and learning opportunities for students. “Ngā Toi is an exciting space where our young people will be immersed in creativity in their various cultural pursuits and can let their imaginations take flight.”

A highlight of the development is the Gough Family Theatre, with its sophisticated acoustic and lighting design and seating for 266, making it a premier performance space in Christchurch. As well as productions, the theatre will be utilised for a range of other events and activities at St Andrew’s, says Christine.

The Gough Family Theatre’s major sponsors, Ben and Pen Gough and their family were special guests at the opening. “It has been great to play a part, along with a lot of other people who have supported this development, to create a facility which will connect students, parents and the community, bring a lot of laughter, joy and fun, and spark ideas and creativity,” says Ben Gough.

Ben and Pen Gough and St Andrew's College Rector Christine Leighton at ribbon cutting ceremony of Ngā Toi Performing Arts Centre and Gough Family Theatre.A dedicated Ballet Studio and separate Dance Studio is providing the College’s Ballet Academy and co-curricular dance students with leading edge spaces to train and showcase their talent. Another special part of the development is the Blair Gough Drama Studio, which as well as being used for Drama classes at all year levels, has seating for 50 people, creating an intimate, immersive performance space.

The Dance Studio and Blair Gough Drama Studio's major sponsor Gina Satterthwaite of the Fife Foundation was delighted to see the studios in action prior to the official opening. “Seeing these spaces alive with students is what it is really all about for me. Performing Arts can provide young people with a launch pad for their future and teaches them so many life skills.”

St Andrew’s students involved in Media and Television Production at the College will also explore a whole new world of technology and backstage operations in the theatre, says Christine. “An exciting example is the new overhead gantry system, which allows full creative use of theatrical lighting tailored to any performance, giving students valuable hands-on experience of theatre lighting and set up.”

Changing rooms, a large workshop area with vehicle-sized access onto the stage, and extensive prop and costume storage are other features of the new Theatre.

St Andrew's College student Xanthe Pearce at the 2024 Senior College production, Legally Blonde.Christine says fundraising efforts over several years were crucial to making this visionary project a reality. “We are immensely grateful for the generous support of all those who contributed to bringing this amazing facility to life, and it was wonderful to welcome so many of them as special guests at the official opening.”

Following heartfelt blessings from mana whenua, Ngāi Tūāhuriri, and College Chaplain, Rev. Paul Morrow, short speeches, and ribbon cutting ceremonies, the Ngā Toi Performing Arts Centre was officially opened. Guests were then wowed by a spectacular student performance of the high energy show, Legally Blonde. A well-deserved standing ovation at the end of the show was the perfect conclusion to the years of fundraising and hard work that went into the development of our new Ngā Toi Performing Arts Centre, and marked the beginning of the creativity, learning and magic that lies ahead.

The cast of St Andrew's College 2024 Senior College production, Legally Blonde, on stage.

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