Southward Theatre lighting and sound equipment is undergoing a $600,000 revamp, bringing the 50-year-old theatre up to date.

"We've been planning the upgrade for the last five years but the scope of it has changed many times over that time," Southward Car Museum functions and events co-ordinator Levi Hampton said.

"We've done a lot of research to figure out what the best solution for our venue will be, a solution which will service all our environments."

With the venue celebrating its 50th birthday in December, the revamp, funded by the Southward Car Museum Trust, will include a new rig with a greater capacity to hold new intelligent lights, replacing the old fly system in the theatre.

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New intelligent lighting done in-house will create more atmosphere at events at Southwards Theatre. Photo / Rosalie Willis
New intelligent lighting done in-house will create more atmosphere at events at Southwards Theatre. Photo / Rosalie Willis

"The fly system is old hat now and we wanted to replace it with something a bit more modern and user friendly so we have designed a new updated rig to hang the lights off.

"We've also designed it so we can take it down and hang it in the auditorium as well.

"It's movable and can take nearly any shape that you can imagine."

The equipment started arriving last Friday and more would be arriving over the next week.

Although it will not be fully installed until January because of Southward's busy calendar, the equipment will still be available for hire and use straight away in a slightly limited capacity.

"We will still be able to offer the lighting and sound equipment for hire and we are already taking bookings for it.

"It will hang on the old fly system but the capacity of the old fly system is lower so we can't hang all the lights off it at the moment."

The new equipment and rigging will allow many more lighting and sound options.

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"Thirty-six new intelligent lights have been purchased, lights which can change colour, move and have different gobos [patterns] that you can project," Hampton said.

"The reason we've invested all this money is to open up options for people who otherwise would be spending like $10-15k hiring sound and lighting engineers that have to come up from Wellington for their events.

"We will now be able to offer the community packages that they will be able to afford, all done in-house.

"The idea behind the investment is to follow along with the tradition of this place, as a gift to the community. We built this place as a gift and we exist to serve the community."

After the full installation of the new equipment more aesthetic improvements will also be made to the theatre.