Door open to all events

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Queenstown ratepayers may co-fund Gibbston rock concerts and Cromwell motorsport as the local council’s new $700,000 events fund develops.

“We’re entirely open to considering all comers,” chief executive office director Meaghan Miller says.

“There are lots of exciting options so I don’t think we’re quite in a position to say no to anything.”

Even Gibbston Valley concerts such as Pat Benatar’s, which drew 15,000 people in February?

Miller: “It’d depend on the level of funding they were seeking. For some of these significant events, the amount they’d receive from council might be quite small in the scheme of things.”

One funding criterion is the event should occur within the Wakatipu or Wanaka – yet even that could be bendable, Miller says.

“There could well be an event – and I’m thinking about [the Highlands Motorsport Park in] Cromwell or something else closely aligned to our district – that could be advantageous.”

Highlands marketing boss Marijke Dunselman predicted to Mountain Scene last September that her motorsport park would be a huge windfall for the Wakatipu.

Many racegoers will fly into Queenstown, stay in the resort and travel to Cromwell for the racing, she says.

Speaking generally about funding events outside Queenstown-Lakes, Miller says the council may negotiate reciprocal benefits.

“Possibly part of the event may be able to occur within our district,” she says.

Auckland promoter Brent Eccles, whose Civic Events brought Fat Freddy’s Drop to Gibbston’s Waitiri Creek winery in February, admires the council initiative: “Good on ’em – well done.”

Eccles says Queenstown isn’t the easiest or cheapest place to get to – airfares are expensive – so event promoters will find the fund helpful.

Eccles cites New Plymouth’s council as a great example of an event-friendly local body.

“Fleetwood Mac came to New Zealand and played only in New Plymouth – that was extraordinary. The only reason that happened was they were helped, otherwise they’d have gone to Auckland,” Eccles says.

Miller says roll up, roll up: “We want to hear from everyone interested in having an event here and we’re open to all proposals. This fund raises a very large flag to say that we’re open for [events] business.”

Council chief Adam Feeley adds a cautionary note: “The events fund is modelled along the same lines as the [Government’s] NZ Major Events approach. It isn’t a long-term subsidy for sporting or cultural events.”

The fund will take a one- to three-year approach to enable events to then stand on their own feet, Feeley says, whether by profit-building or commercial sponsorships: “It follows that an event which appears to be immediately commercially viable would generally not be a suitable candidate for [council] funding.”

And the same goes for an event which can’t demonstrate eventual viability. 

Make your money pitch

– Applications close July 26 for events before October 31. Applications close August 30 for November 1-April 30 events

– Total funding for “economic” events is $500,000 annually – with $200,000 for “community” events in the first year, rising to $300,000 the following year 

– Panel approves applications up to $30,000 and “recommends” applications over $30,000 for council approval