Group calls for special tax to fund events office

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A community taskforce recommends striking a special rate to fund a Queenstown Lakes district event office. 

The agency – to boost both community and commercial events – would be housed in the Queenstown Lakes District Council offices. 

The council already spends $380,000 a year funding community events, such as Summerdaze and the Christmas concert – as well as the office of arts and events facilitator Jan Maxwell. 

The taskforce – which arose out of the community-driven ‘Shaping our Future’ public forums – recommends spending an extra $175,000 in year one. This would fund the office and enable a Southern Lakes events manager/facilitator to be employed. It would also enable about $50,000 to be put towards community events. 

In year two it’s envisaged there’d be a further $150,000 for community events. 

In year three there’d be an extra $400,000 split between $250,000 for economic events and $150,000 for community events. 

There’d be another $500,000 for economic events in years four and five. 

The taskforce, in its report released last week, says a targeted commercial and residential rate “was seen as the only way to ensure the long-term future of the entity”. 

The council, however, would also try for Ministry of Economic Development funding, the report says. 

It states the local event industry is extremely fragmented, there’s ongoing confusion over consent requirements and use of public spaces and a lack of understanding of the impact of events. 

Queenstown Lakes also receives less funding and support for events than other centres. 

“This lack of funding and support is coupled with the Southern Lakes being an expensive place to produce events.” 

An event agency was “desperately required” to provide a coordinated approach, develop an event strategy and offer support and advice, and where appropriate, assist with funding. 

The agency would be governed by a board including council, Destination Queenstown and Chamber of Commerce members. 

The taskforce is holding a public forum to discuss its report at the council chambers from 4.30 till 7pm today.