Downturn of visitors hits arts festival
"We broke even, which is probably the biggest thing for us"TARYN UTIGER
A drop in out-of-town visitors meant the region's latest arts festival pulled less income into Taranaki than previous festivals.
A report released by Taft this week has revealed the economic impact of the biennial event was down $1 million on 2011.
However, organisers are still hailing the August festival as a success story, saying attendance numbers were up, even though the number of visitors to the region was down.
"This festival is predominantly for locals and everything else is icing on the cake," Taft chief executive Suzanne Porter said.
The analysis, conducted by Berl, cites the economic impact of this year's festival as $3.5m, compared to $4.49m in 2011.
The financial benefit for the region could not be doubted, Ms Porter said, but the organisation itself was pleased to cover costs.
"We broke even, which is probably the biggest thing for us. Our funding was cut this time round, so we relied more on our local sponsors, who really came to the party."
Major national funder Creative New Zealand cut funding by $55,000, but the regional support increased, she said.
"Even though our national funding was cut, artistically this festival was as good as every other, if not better," she said.
Rodney Maiden from Hooker Pacific agreed, saying the quality and variety of the entertainment was first-class.
Hooker Pacific have sponsored the festival since its inception and this year Mr Maiden went to nine performances.
"Of the shows we went to Leo would have been my top pick, closely followed by the show we sponsored - Die Roten Punkte," he said.
The company's relationship with the arts festival trust extends to Womad and Mr Maiden said supporting the community was vital for the viability and sustainability of Hooker Pacific.
Last month Taft conducted an unscientific online survey of 500 attendees of this year's festival.
There were 29 shows on offer and according to the survey the average number of events individuals attended was 3.7.
The survey also revealed 81 per cent of people believed tickets were priced correctly, while 6 per cent considered the ticket price too high.
The cost of tickets ranged from $15 for Anybody Waitin'? at Peggy Gordons, to $79 for the premium seats for the headline show, Traces. Eight per cent of the 5494 attendees were from out of town, with most visitors coming from Wellington and Auckland.
The total number of tickets for the event came in at 20,400 and that cost accounted for 32 per cent of the money people spent in relation to the event.
Restaurants and bars topped the expenditure list, receiving one-third of the money spent during the festival.
According to the survey accommodation accounted for 25 per cent of the money spent and the final 10 per cent of spending went on road transport.
Ms Porter said the survey would help the trust prepare for the 2015 festival.
"Feedback is really important, because there are always thing we can improve on," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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