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Ashburton dance school in limbo

Ashburton dance school in limbo
Charmaine Quaid has been operating Dance Worx from the Balmoral Hall in Ashburton for almost 50-years and is in limbo with the Ashburton District Council proposing to sell the building. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK/LDR.

Dance teacher Charmaine Quaid says she will be devastated to lose the building where she has run her Ashburton dance studio for almost 50 years.

The Balmoral Hall has been home to hundreds of students from the Ashburton District over the years who have attended Quaid’s dance studio, Dance Worx.

The uncertain future has left the dance school in limbo, and they plan to make a stand to save the hall.

“It’s not only for Dance Worx, it could be a great community hall and is a historic building that is part of our past,” Quaid said.

“I do understand as a ratepayer that our money has to be spent wisely.

“But do we want the past of Ashburton to be obliterated?”

There are no other floors quite like Balmoral Hall in Ashburton, she said.

“It’s reputed to be a sprung floor and fabulous for dancing on.”

Visiting examiners have praised the floor but Quaid said she is embarrassed by the state of the building around it.

The hall has an estimated $1.3m repair cost to bring it up to standard.

The council’s preferred option is to sell the building while creating an alternative studio space at the EA Networks Centre.

Dance Worx has around 200 students attending classes at Balmoral Hall, including the SilverSwans adult dance class. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK/LDR.

Quaid said she knows the hall needs work, but said it was due to the council neglecting the maintenance over the years.

The roof is falling in and users have to go to the council office to collect tokens to run the heaters – of which some no longer work, she said.

If the Balmoral Hall is retained and refurbished, it will likely see an increase in the hourly charge – currently $25 per hour – to one they can’t afford, Quaid said.

Any new owners of the hall could allow Quaid to remain a tenant unless the building is demolished.

If it ends up going up for sale, purchasing the venue would likely be out of reach, she said.

“We haven’t considered that and we are just a small business.”

The potential of a studio space at EA Networks could also come with an expensive hourly rate and it may not be of the same standard, Quaid said.

The Tinwald Hall is another alternative but is already well used, she said.

Quaid is calling on past and present dancers to attend a family photo event on April 5 at 5.30pm at the hall.

As well as taking photographs, they plan to collect statements of support for a submission to the council to retain the hall.

The council is proposing to sell the hall and land as the costs to maintain and operate both sites is expensive, and the income received doesn’t currently cover the costs

Its income was $11,445 in 2022/23 year, whereas expenditure for the year was $44,733.

If ratepayers were to stump up and fund the repairs, they would also have to continue topping up the hall to subsidise the users.

By Jonathan Leask