Music festival competition fierce

LOUISE RISK AND MARYANNE TWENTYMAN
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2012
Parachute Festival.
CHRIS HILLOCK

Parachute Festival.

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One music festival is set to pull out of Waikato and another cannot guarantee it will stay in the region as festival organisers around the country vie for patronage during tough financial times.

The Waikato Times last night confirmed the More FM Summer Vineyard Tour, which was due to play at Claudelands on Waitangi Day has been cancelled, while Parachute, an annual festival that attracted between 20,000 and 24,000 people to Mystery Creek each year, may leave the region once its contract expires next year.

Hamilton City Council confirmed Summer Vineyard Tour promoters had cancelled the Claudelands leg of the tour but would not discuss the contract any further. However, the event was still being advertised on the Claudelands website last night and Ticketek was still accepting bookings at $79 a ticket.

Event promoter Callum August released this statement to the Times late last night: "The Claudelands show of the Summer Vineyard Tour is currently being evaluated by us in consultation with key stakeholders, including overseas booking agents. We will be in a position to make an announcement as to the official status of this show tomorrow."

Local ticketholders were last night disappointed by the pending cancellation of the concert which was to feature acts such as the John Butler Trio and American soul singer Aloe Blacc & The Grand Scheme. The news comes on the back of the Kiwi festival industry taking a hit earlier this week when the organisers of Auckland's Big Day Out announced today's festival would be their last one in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Parachute chief executive Mark de Jong said moving the annual event was just one of many ideas being considered by the not-for-profit festival.

"It's an interesting time for festivals," Mr de Jong said. "People are having to reinvent themselves."

Mr de Jong said Parachute's contract with Mystery Creek, the festival's venue for the past nine years, expired next year, so from 2014 the festival could be held elsewhere.

"It's possible," Mr de Jong said.

"We haven't committed to staying in the Waikato."

Mr de Jong would not release numbers, but said ticket sales to this year's Parachute festival, which will be held from January 27 to January 30, had been "soft". He said that in response to feedback a move was made this week to allow families to buy "Pay What You Can Afford" tickets for as little as $1, which had boosted numbers, but had not necessarily helped with covering the costs of running the festival.

By yesterday afternoon, "a few hundred" families had taken up the opportunity, with people paying anywhere from $1 to the usual $465 under the scheme.

Mr de Jong would not elaborate on any of the other ideas the Parachute team was considering for the festival, but he was confident it would continue.

"Watch this space."

Jon Calder, chief executive of the National Fieldays Society, said Mystery Creek Events Centre had been host to Parachute Music Festival since 2004 and hoped to continue the relationship.

"We have a great relationship with the Parachute team and work closely to assist in delivering a viable event.

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"We understand the challenges facing the events industry, and are committed to supporting our clients to ensure they continue to bring successful events to the region."

By contrast, Greg Stack, the co-director of Soundscape, an inner-city dance party festival, said all the earlybird tickets to their March festival had sold out in 30 hours and they were expecting more than 4500 people to attend, up 500 on their last festival in July.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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