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The naming of the new hire space that was the old Opera Kitchen café in Hastings will be decided by competition.

Hastings District Council has decided to hire out the room next to the Opera House Plaza for functions until a broader decision is made on the final configuration of both spaces. At the time that the public strongly urged Council to earthquake strengthen the Hawke’s Bay Opera House, residents also responded positively to the idea that the Plaza area should be permanently roofed, depending on cost.

Earthquake strengthening work completed in the Plaza and the availability of the café space opens up “new and exciting” possibilities for use, says Council’s facilities group manager Alison Banks.

The news comes as bookings of the Plaza start to stack up. Over the next months a range of events will be held in the space, from high school graduations and music festivals to conferences and charity auctions.

Adding the café space makes booking the venue much more flexible, with space for small and largeevents, says Ms Banks.

The Plaza can handle from 400 to 600 people depending on seating arrangements, and the café space can hold 60 to 80. They can be hired together or individually.

One of the recent events was a mid-year-high school ball, which saw the Plaza dressed in black and silver. “It really did look very special and just shows how suitable it is for every occasion,” says Ms Banks.

The high school also hired the café space as a “chill-out” area.

“It really is great to be able to see such an impressive asset, which belongs to residents, being used for the purpose it was intended. There are still plenty of opportunities to book, and it is easy to arrange through Council.”

A question that comes up is whether the earthquake issues in the opera house will impact on the Plaza in a big enough shake. Ms Banks says any fears are easily allayed.  “The wall that is the risk inside the opera house is on the opposite side of the building from the Plaza and therefore even if it fell it could not hurt people in the Plaza.”

Details on the competition to name the café space will be revealed in the coming weeks. “As well as having the honour of naming the space, the winner will also receive a lovely prize,” says Ms Banks. “It will be worth putting your thinking caps on for.” 

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