To begin with the subject that has been occupying everybody’s attention for the past two months. The Paramount will stop operating as a cinema on September 30th. CPL (the cinema operating company) will cease to be a tenant of the building after that date. They decided that they could not operate profitably if they accepted the latest rent increase demanded by the building owners (Michael Tang in Hong Kong and Alan Blundell in Wellington). The building, the façade of which has a grade 2 heritage listing needs a new roof and further earthquake strengthening. There have been no prospective buyers at the asking price of $6 million.
Roger Chapman and I on behalf of U3A have in the past 2 months attended meetings of the Paramount Users Group to try and determine a future for the Paramount. These meetings have been attended by the main users of the Paramount, the Film Festival, the Film Society and the Abundant Life Church all of whom have leases with CPL. At this point the user group has not found a solution to save the Paramount as a cinema or a function centre.
The U3A committee has strongly supported Steven at the Paramount but felt just as strongly that we had to look for alternative venues for our October and November lectures this year. We have made an agreement with the Embassy, at a good competitive price to hold our lectures there in October and November. The first lecture at the Embassy therefore, will be Tuesday 17th October after our school holidays. We will hire the auditorium, the screen and sound system after a satisfactory assessment by our crew, Alan, Bruce and Ian. The lovely foyer will be available to buy coffee and tea. If this arrangement works and there is no future at the Paramount the committee would then look at signing a long-term contract with the Embassy.
National U3A Website
Recently we made a donation of $5 to the National U3A Website situated in Auckland. We are listed on this website. Christchurch also claims to have a national U3A website but this does not contain all the New Zealand U3A domains. We suggested to Auckland that one site only would be preferable but the individual in Christchurch who setup the website will not agree. To us it seems crazy to have two different national U3A websites but one individual in Christchurch refuses to budge.
Tony, out treasurer has maintained our good financial health. There has been a significant income from visitors and we are expecting a small surplus for the year. The annual subscription will remain unchanged at $35.
Membership & Software
We now have 1,115 members. Most of the new members are not choosing to receive their newsletters by post. Chris Winstanley has organised new permanent membership cards which members will receive when they renew their subscriptions. A programmed scanner will read these cards when they are scanned at reception before lectures. We will trial the scanner in July.
We continue to receive very positive comments about the program. Both Roger and Bruce who organise the program know how essential it is to leave a few gaps to accommodate new speakers or new subjects that suddenly appear during the year. We are very grateful to those members who suggest a speaker, arrange the topic and then come and introduce their speaker.
Special Interest Groups
Margaret and Ian have contacted all the group conveners to remind them that their members must be paid up members of Wellington City U3A. The conveners were offered any assistance they might require.
Visits & Events
Aidan organised a very successful holiday program. The Walk Wellington and the Art Walk were so over-subscribed that extra walks had to be arranged. Much of this was due to his good publicity, advertising his holiday program on the screen before lectures. Details of the mid-winter lunch will be in the newsletter.