Arts to go back to city

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 21/09/2012

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The Nelson Arts Festival is moving from its base at Founders Heritage Park back into the central city from next year, and it could in future be run by an outside organisation.

The city council's policy and planning committee yesterday adopted multiple asset and activity management plans, including its inaugural arts activity management plan created to guide the council in its provision and strategic management of arts facilities and activities.

The two major arts activities funded by the council are the Nelson Arts Festival held each spring, and the Nelson Summer Programme.

The arts activity management plan highlighted that an important issue for the future is moving the arts festival back to central Nelson to help reinvigorate the central city, and whether festivals should be outsourced or continue to operate within the council.

City council policy and planning manager Nicky McDonald said the idea of an outside organisation running Nelson's festivals came up at a council workshop. Work was yet to be done at a council level before it might progress through the annual plan and public consultation.

Acting Mayor Ali Boswijk said a trust might also be an option for taking over running of the arts festivals.

Ms McDonald said the entity to be formed by the merging of the Theatre Royal and Nelson School of Music trust boards was an example of the type of organisation that might take on festivals management.

The Nelson Arts Festival was the only one in the country not run by a trust.

In the last financial year the total festival cost was just over $800,000 of which 21 per cent was provided by sponsorship, 36 per cent from sales, and 43 per cent rates funded. Revenue was almost $600,000.

The budget for this year is set at about $100,000 less with projected revenue dipping under $400,000.

The summary said the current economic climate was making it difficult to get funding. Creative New Zealand was a key funder of the Nelson Arts Festival and had said its ability to provide support for the many regional arts festivals may be stretched in future.

It was also likely that the Government funding agency would pressure festival organisers to adopt business models leading them to be more financially sustainable.

The management plan said the current management structure

meant the council had better control of the product and its outcomes, and was able to provide strong council branding, but other festivals benefited from having a core team of trust members to support festival delivery.

Feedback from city businesses that the festival helped boost trade was a reason for shifting the core of the festival back to the central city, but Founders would still be used as a venue for various festival events.

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Councillor Derek Shaw said the festival worked well there and he knew it was good for Founders, but it was also important to help keep the central city vibrant.

A highlight of the summer programme, Opera in the Park - which was missing from this year's schedule, will be staged again next February.

It has been confirmed as a biennial rather than annual event, once scheduling has been synchronised to avoid it clashing with the Adam Chamber Music Festival, which also happens in Nelson every second year.

Councillor Pete Rainey said the aim also was to ensure one major music event happened in Nelson each summer.

He suggested through the annual plan process and again yesterday, holding opera in the park in 2013 and again in 2014, and every second year thereafter.

Ms McDonald said it was possible to leave the funding in as allocated through the long-term plan, then propose to alter it to suit the re-arranged timing of the event.

- The Nelson Mail

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