Funds fillip to explore revamp of NZ Festival

17:00, Aug 22 2014

Moves to turn the biennial New Zealand Festival into a series of mini events have had a funding boost from Wellington councils.

A special mayoral committee has agreed to give the two-yearly festival $132,200 from a regional amenities fund to help research and develop a business case for a "new New Zealand Festival".

An economic assessment of this year's February and March festival found it put $70 million into the economy, compared with $56m in 2012. Ticket sales rose from 104,000 in 2012 to 116,000, and total attendances at paid and unpaid shows rose slightly from 264,266 to 266,760.

But organisers had expressed concerns about the festival's continuing viability, with executive chairwoman Kerry Prendergast, a former Wellington mayor, suggesting making it an annual event could be considered.

Earlier this month a proposal was revealed to stage a series of "mini festivals" each year to complement the main two-yearly event. The suggestion was for one more event in festival years, and two mini events in off-years.

Prendergast said that the mini festivals could be targeted at quiet times of year, and would also be a way to help build audiences.


Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown was yesterday elected chairwoman of the regional amenities fund committee, and said it was excited to support investigation of the proposal, which made an "excellent contribution" to the local economy.

"I'm delighted that the talented staff will be able to expand the reach and range of festivals in Wellington to address gaps in our calendar while retaining the extraordinary buzz of the NZ Festival."

Festival executive director Sue Paterson said: "Creating new niche events or mini-festivals has great potential to bring wide-reaching benefits to the Wellington region . . .

"We think the new model will allow us to deliver events that better reflect the diversity of the people who make up Wellington . . .

"We're looking forward to pressing on with this work."

The regional amenities fund helps fund projects that benefit the whole region.

The Dominion Post