Arts fest brings $56m boost to Wellington

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
CONSUMER AFFAIRS, AND ATTRACTIONS AND EVENTS REPORTER
Last updated 11:46 14/06/2012
Circenses
FAIRFAX NZ

FESTIVAL HIT: Belgium's Circus Ronaldo show Circenses was one of the hits of the Arts Festival.

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This year's International Arts Festival may only just break even, but it provided a $56 million boost to Wellington's economy.

An independent economic analysis has revealed money spent in the city by both the festival itself and visitors coming from other regions to see its shows was up $17m from the $39m generated by 2010's festival.

About 900 artists from 31 countries performed in the festival, held in Wellington over three weeks in February and March.

There were more than 20 sell-out shows, including crowd favourites American folk band Bon Iver and the circus hit Circenses.

Festival executive chair Kerry Prendergast said economic impact figures, which were obtained by research company BERL, were good news in the current climate.

On average, visitors from outside the region spent about $662 and stayed for 2.6 nights in the capital, it found.
The festival showed a healthy return on its investment, since every dollar invested generated $29 for Wellington, she said.

"These surveys show that the New Zealand International Arts Festival is embraced and celebrated by the public and confirm its economic and cultural importance both to Wellington and New Zealand."

Ms Prendergast said final financial figures would be known after June 30, but the festival board was "delighted" with early indications.

"The festival continues to stay at the forefront of the arts in New Zealand and through prudent management it remains financially stable in changing economic times.

"In an ideal world it would be fantastic to make a profit, but our aim is to break even. I'm absolutely confident we will break even."

This year's festival cost $12.7m to stage, $1.3m less than in 2010. Wellington City Council contributed about $2m,

Creative NZ gave $1m and about $300,000 came from government grants.

About 92,000 tickets were sold, with another 18,000 issued for sponsors, schools, patrons and promotional purposes. More were also sold this year to people from outside Wellington.

There were 140,000 available tickets, but festival organisers "never budget for full houses", Ms Prendergast said.

The 2010 festival made a loss of about $200,000, but it was offset by using its accumulated funds, which reduced it to a deficit of $8000.

Organisers were already starting to look at the programme and budget for 2014's festival.

"Under the new artistic director, Shelagh Magadza, the festival will continue to play a key role in making Wellington an international capital of creativity, innovation and ideas."

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Contact Jody O'Callaghan
Consumer affairs, and Attractions and Events reporter
Email: jody.o'callaghan@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @miss_jodyo

- The Dominion Post

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