Big hopes for city arts fest

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS ETHERIDGE

The num­ber of bums on seats will de­ter­mine whether the Auck­land Arts Fes­ti­val be­comes an an­nual event.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s budget group has sup­ported tri­alling the fes­ti­val ev­ery year be­tween 2015 and 2017.

Cur­rently, the 19-day Auck­land Arts Fes­ti­val is held ev­ery sec­ond year in cen­tral Auck­land.

The fes­ti­val’s trust will re­ceive a boost of $3.2 mil­lion a year, most likely pro­vided through the Auck­land Re­gional Ameni­ties Fund­ing Act.

A de­ci­sion about run­ning the event an­nu­ally will be made af­ter the 2016 fes­ti­val, de­pen­dent on sus­tain­abil­ity.

The key test will be hold­ing onto its at­ten­dance num­bers, ac­cord­ing to a re­port pre­sented to coun­cil.

The $11.2m event reached more than 180,000 people, a re­port on the 2013 fes­ti­val says.

Based on ticket sales about $3m was made, more than doubling 2011’s earn­ings.

Fes­ti­val founder and chair­woman Vic­to­ria Carter says a strong pro­gramme and pric­ing to en­tice a wide au­di­ence will be key.

Sourc­ing pop­u­lar yet af­ford­able works that ap­pealed to those new to the arts, was es­sen­tial to 2013’s suc­cess, she says.

‘‘The fact that half of our au­di­ence is un­der 45 also gives us great po­ten­tial to grow new fes­ti­val­go­ers.

‘‘In 2016 we also ex­pect to have a num­ber of col­lab­o­ra­tions with leading New Zealand arts com­pa­nies,’’ she says.

A re­port pre­pared for the coun­cil high­lighted how proud the event makes Auck­lan­ders feel, the ex­po­sure given to smaller groups and the bal­ance it of­fers to Auck­land’s sports-dom­i­nated events cal­en­dar.

But boost­ing the fes­ti­val’s fund­ing to $3.2m per year ‘‘may dis­place other arts sec­tor spend’’, the re­port said.

The trust says an additional $1m will be sought in spon­sor­ship and trust grants to fill the fund­ing gap. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Auck­land Tourism, Events and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and four other coun­cil de­part­ments in­ves­ti­gated hold­ing the event ev­ery year. PROS:

81 per cent of people sur­veyed at last year’s event agreed it made them proud of Auck­land

It pro­vided ex­po­sure for smaller arts groups

Aus­tralian ev­i­dence shows two-yearly fes­ti­vals be­come yearly – even­tu­ally

A yearly arts of­fer­ing would bal­ance Auck­land’s sport­dom­i­nated events cal­en­dar CONS:

There would be ‘‘limited’’ di­rect eco­nomic ben­e­fit from the fes­ti­val

At­ten­dees are people al­ready en­gaged in the arts scene

This means the fes­ti­val does not line up with the Auck­land Plan’s goals

Auck­land is al­ready jam-packed with events early in the year. Venues and ac­com­mo­da­tion are un­der pres­sure.

Arts trial: Auck­land Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse with Auck­land Arts Fes­ti­val founder Vic­to­ria Carter.

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