Music and arts groups are calling on Nelson City Council to abandon ideas of spending $30 million on a performing arts centre.
The council says the city's current venues are too small to attract major acts and it needs a proper one if it is to call itself a true centre of arts.
But the proposal has attracted wide criticism in submissions to the council's annual plan.
About 80% of 1700 submitters are opposed to a council move to build a new theatre and conference centre at Rutherford Park.
Musician Bob Bickerton told a hearing on Friday a new arts centre would be disastrous for existing venues, such as the Theatre Royal and the Nelson School of Music.
Other submitters say the project would have a massive impact on rates.
Mayor Aldo Miccio says the council has to consider the views of people who have not made submissions and whatever decision it makes will upset large numbers of ratepayers.
The hearings continue next week and the council is expected to make a decision in about a month.