Nelson School of Music Upgrade

IMG 4011

Contractor: Coman Construction
Project Manager: Opus
Budget: $6.4 million
Status: Construction
Time frame: I year


January 2017

Work is continuing on the strengthening and upgrade project and all is going to plan at this stage.  

November 2016

The demolition work has largely been completed and the foundations for the new southern extension are currently being laid. The strengthening work to the main auditorium has begun. This part of the project is expected to be finished by August 2017.

The Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage has allocated additional funding to restore heritage features to the auditorium. This work is still subject to resource consent, design and final budget approval.  It may add extra time to the length of the project but this is still being assessed at this stage. 


With fundraising goals achieved, the Nelson School of Music Trust appointed Coman Construction to carry out the strengthening and redevelopment of this iconic building.   Construction is now likely to start on site in September and should take around 12 months to complete.  The $6.4 million redevelopment project includes: 

  • Earthquake strengthening of the existing auditorium
  • Tiered rows at the rear of the auditorium and new comfortable seating throughout
  • Improved heating and cooling systems
  • Preserving the brilliant acoustics of the auditorium
  • Modern concert hall lighting and sound systems
  • Upgraded entry foyer
  • Improved ticketing and toilet facilities in the Beatrice Kidson building
  • Stage level access throughout the rear of the building
  • New build on the old Rainey House site for a full size orchestral rehearsal room/recital theatre, new studios and green rooms, a library, classrooms and a remote learning/keyboard lab
  • Environmentally controlled storage room for the Steinway piano.
December 2015

In December 2015,  the NSOM was awarded $1.2 million in grants from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board.  With the $3 million already committed by Council in the 2014-2015 Long Term Plan, $850,000 from the Rata Foundation and $350,000 from the Endowment Trust, the school is now focusing on public fundraising for the remaining $1 million required. So far $600,000 has been raised, with a further $4-500,000 still to be found.

The concept plan for the building restoration can be seen below:

NSOM plan


The Nelson School of Music is a key piece of the city’s arts infrastructure and has a long association with the internationally regarded Adam Chamber Music Festival. The School is valued by our community for the music and performance training it provides to all ages of people, as a music performance venue and as a category one heritage building with a world class auditorium. The main auditorium has excellent acoustics and is considered to be one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere for chamber music.

In December 2013 the building was identified as earthquake prone and the Nelson School of Music Trust closed its auditorium to mitigate this risk.

In the 2014/2015 Long Term Plan, Council committed to supporting the NSOM Trust with its redevelopment building by way of a capital grant of up to $3 million, on the basis that it raises at least an equal amount from other funders, sponsorship and community fundraising. Council considers the reopening of the auditorium a priority for its cultural and economic value to Nelson.