The Victoria Theatre Trust
The Victoria Theatre Trust, a charitable trust which was formed in 2004 to save the theatre is committed to refurbishing the Victoria Theatre and has completed part one of its refurbishment plan to date.
The long-term plan is for a complete restoration of the theatre, including seismic strengthening and heritage renovation.
This will be funded through applications to principle funding agencies but in the meantime the VTT will need to demonstrate that the Vic is a viable and thriving part of the community.
The Trust is delighted that the theatre is now an integral part of the Devonport and Auckland cultural landscape and thank you for your support.
New Foyer project underway!
To develop the Victoria Theatre as a Cinema, Performing Arts and Community Arts Centre that will support and respond to community needs.
To ensure that the Theatre is financially sustainable, with the long term goal of restoring the heritage integrity of the building and creating a vital focal point for Cinema and Live Arts on the North Shore and beyond.
To showcase both International and New Zealand Cinema and Live Performance and to provide stimulus for both local and national emerging artists.
To promote a Creative Environment with the Victoria Theatre as its performance hub.
The Victoria Theatre was built in 1912 and is the earliest purpose-built cinema still in existence in the Southern Hemisphere. It was built by American John Leon Benwell during the silent movie era, when up to a thousand people could be seated in the theatre.
The Victoria was a thriving entertainment centre for the community. In 1914 John Benwell wanted to return to the USA and sold the Victoria to a new picture company, Fuller-Haywards. In order to cash in on the ‘talkies’ boom, in 1929 the company transformed the building from a ‘picture palace’ into an art deco, up-to-date cinema. However the depression struck soon after, audience numbers plummeted and the company ceased operating in 1930.
From 1945 Kerridge Odeon took over the Victoria and ran it successfully for 43 years, but by the late 1980’s patronage had dropped and the theatre was closed and put up for sale.The Vic was transformed again in 1989 by publisher, Bruce Palmer who converted the Victoria into Charley Gray’s Twin Cinemas Devonport, by separating the original stalls and circle.
The Victoria changed ownership several times during the 1990’s and into the new millennium and operated with various degrees of success. In 2001 it faced being turned into apartments and there were a number of attempts by local groups to retain the Vic as a theatrical and cinema space.
Following the energetic efforts of the original Victoria Theatre Trust, the North Shore City Council was persuaded to buy the building in 2006. In 2009 the current Trust successfully won the tender to lease the Victoria for 33 years.
The Trust re-opened the Victoria as a cinema and performance venue, and has a long-term goal of extensive heritage restoration of the building. More details on the commercial operation of The Vic can be found at www.thevic.co.nz.