Andy Jackson / Stuff
Taft has given up on its partnership to host Womad in 2021, citing unacceptable financial risks.
Womad International is confident that a festival can be held in New Zealand in 2021, despite the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust withdrawing as a production partner due to the risk of losing up to $ 3.5 million.
In a media report published Monday, the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (Taft) said it could no longer host the three-day music, arts and dance festival at New Plymouth’s TSB Bowl of Brooklands after 20 years.
The festival is Taranaki’s largest and most popular annual event, attended by thousands of people from all over New Zealand. The future of the event in Taranaki is now uncertain.
In a written response to questions, Taft CEO Suzanne Porter said she understood that a five-year partnership contract to run Womad NZ had been offered to the events and concert promotion company Live Nation.
* ‘No Comment’ on Womad as Taft wrap up their last festival for the year
* Funding welcome, but no decision on Womad 2021 yet
* Arts trust is considering its options for Womad 2021
Porter said she could not say whether this meant that Womad would no longer be held in Taranaki.
Live Nation has been contacted to confirm if it is involved with Womad NZ.
On Monday, Taft said it had considered all options before making the “heartbreaking” decision to retire as a manufacturing partner.
These options include seeking an endorsement from the government and other funding organizations to support the festival that continues in 2021.
“We needed insurance to cover us for late cancellations due to the change in Covid levels allowing for mass congregation. We just needed a lockdown in Auckland to jeopardize the event, ”said Porter.
Any cancellation from the beginning of March through the week of Womad’s presentation would have posed a risk of between $ 2.8 – $ 3.5 million. The risk lies with Taft, not our UK partners to cover this loss. “
In a separate press release, Chris Smith, president of Womad International, which is based in the UK, said the organization has been working to find a new manufacturing partner since hearing of Taft’s decision “a few months ago.”
“Those discussions are ongoing but very positive, and we hope to announce the continuation of Womad New Zealand in 2021 in the coming days,” he said.
The festival, which will take place between 12 and 14 March, has been months behind the normal schedule.
Presale tickets for the 2020 festival went on sale in July 2019, the first line-up announcement was made in September and the full line-up was announced on October 15.
Smith said the format for the festival in 2021 would mainly feature artists based in New Zealand.
The news of Taft’s withdrawal has raised the question of whether the festival will remain in Taranaki until 2029, as announced by Womad International director Mike Large in 2018.
“Right now, we are very much focused on 2021 and making that possible and continuing to talk to Taft about the future,” said Smith.
New Plymouth MP Glen Bennett, who had worked with the trust to try to get the event endorsed by the government, said he was sad to learn that Taft would not be producing the festival in 2021.
“Hon Andrew Little and I worked to find ways for Taft to produce Womad in 2021, but the final decision to take on an event the size of Womad, in these uncertain times, was up to Taft.”
Venture Taranaki CEO Justine Gilliland understood why Taft was pulling out of the partnership for 2021 and supported the decision.
She said it was too early to say if Taranaki could lose Womad.
“It would be speculative to comment on Womad moving to a different region at this point,” she said.
“It would also take a long time for another region to build the event to the level and diversity that Taft has in the 20 years they have delivered it.”
If the 10-year deal announced in 2018 were to end early, there could be other regions interested in hosting the event, generating $ 6.5 million in GDP for the Taranaki region in 2019 and 51,000 attendees in 2020 for three days.
Auckland has previously hosted Womad and Christchurch, and Nelson has also expressed interest in the past.