Guitars show ends on sour note
The Matariki Music - Celebrating Guitars exhibition at Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North has closed a month early amid concerns the organiser was running up food and drink bills at the ratepayers' expense.
Te Manawa entered into an agreement with the exhibition creator, Riverrain Trust from Whanganui, but it said the agreement was breached to the point where Te Manawa had to "draw a line in the sand" over costs.
"Te Manawa bent over backwards to work with the trust and to have the guitar exhibition here for a significant amount of time, but as its demands kept changing and escalating and the scheduled performances failed to take place, we felt we had an obligation to Manawatu ratepayers to withdraw our support when costs more than tripled what was budgeted," said Te Manawa chief executive Andy Lowe.
The museum had agreed to pay accommodation costs for exhibition organiser Jason Sad and demonstrator Benny Koroheke, but the resulting bills included alcohol that was not part of the agreement, and which Mr Lowe said didn't fall within "reasonable food and accommodation costs".
Mr Sad was unable to be contacted for comment but Mr Koroheke said that to his knowledge there was no budget.
"There was no budget . . . All they were giving us was accommodation and that was it . . . I'm very disappointed I never got to talk to any of them to ask them why [the exhibition was closed] until I saw the letter and there was a budget blowout and I thought hell, nobody told me there was a budget. If I had known there was a budget, maybe things would have been different."
Mr Koroheke said they had planned to showcase the guitars by holding poolside performances at their hotel.
"They gave us the Travelodge . . . which was OK but it was not really what I wanted. You couldn't really entertain people there. That's the whole idea of what we were doing . . . We were willing to provide all the entertainment and everything that goes with it but because they never gave us a budget we could never do anything."
Te Manawa Trust Board member Nuwyne Kiri Te Awe Awe Mohi, of Rangitaane, said the early end was discouraging as the board had been working hard to make Matariki a successful and joyous time.
"However, we report back to our rohe (region), and the ratepayers of the Manawatu, and it is important that we are transparent and accountable with our costs."
Mr Koroheke said he had not spoken to Mr Sad since last Thursday when they received a letter from Te Manawa telling them the exhibition was closing early.
"We've talked about it and we're not happy, but this is why we're sort of taking a break away from one another."