Rolleston House will get a new lease on life as a space for local artists.

The heritage-listed building at 5 Worcester Boulevard was set to be disposed of by Christchurch City Council as part of last year’s Long Term Plan.

However, today Councillors decided to retain the property for use as a community arts venue known as Toi Auaha Rolleston House as part of the city’s Arts Strategy – Toi Ōtautahi.

“This is a win-win situation for Ōtautahi. It will breathe life back into one of the central city’s iconic heritage buildings which has been empty for almost two years,” Principal Arts Advisor Kiri Jarden says.

“But it will also give our local creatives some much needed space to work on their craft. Space has been one of the things most asked for by our artists since a significant number of studios werelost in the central city after the 2011 earthquake.”

Toi Auaha will provide Christchurch and Banks Peninsula artists with studios, drop-in and affordable office space with a focus on individual artists and not-for-profit organisations, Ms Jarden says.

“There are so many new and modern spaces popping up for artists as the central city regenerates, it will be great to have another heritage space in the mix too.”

The initiative will be cost neutral for Council. Toi Ōtautahi has been supported with funding from Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage for the first three years to get the project underway.

The building was used as a hostel for more than 100 years and was purchased by Council in 1974. It has been empty since November 2020 when the YHA’s lease ran out.

The Community Arts team are now working through planning for the Toi Auaha project before putting out an Expression of Interest for artists.