Westland District Council chief executive Tanya Winter has
recommended cancelling the 'Great Whitebait Festival' next
year after discovering that losses from the inaugural event
in Christchurch at Labour Weekend were far greater than
New figures released by the council on Friday show the
festival will have cost almost $200,000; double the losses
reported to the council in October.
Ms Winter said if it was held again next year the potential
profits would partially offset the losses from this year,
making the loss from the festival just over $150,000, but
that was still higher than the figure given in October.
The council meeting tomorrow will discuss whether or not to
dump the festival.
Ms Winter said she was pushing for council to "cut its
losses" and cancel the event after investigating the
possibilities to hold it next year.
"In considering all of the information, I have recommended to
council that we exit the festival and concentrate our
resources on other core and strategic activities."
The losses would be covered by the council events department
budget, as it was not directly financed by the council.
Ms Winter blamed the loss on poor ticket sales.
"Ticket sales fell well short of the 5000 tickets required to
break even, and efforts to secure sponsorships to support the
financial proposition were not successful," she said.
The council's Westland Business Unit, which organised the
festival, had aimed to sell 5000 tickets just to break even
but had originally hoped to sell many more.
In the end, it managed to sell only 1900, eventually giving
away a further 2100 complimentary tickets to stallholders,
invited guests, advertisers and the media.
On the plus side, West Coast community groups benefited from
the event by raising more than $25,000 in helping host the
festival, while the region received substantial media
coverage from the event, she said.
Councillors at the October meeting were fairly quiet when
told about the fiasco, but are expected to be more animated
- By Julian Lee of the Hokitika Guardian