One-stop events office supported

The Shaping Our Futures public forum has endorsed a proposal for a one-stop shop district events office for Queenstown and is recommending the Queenstown Lakes District Council increases its annual events budget from $380,000 to $1.6 million over four to five years.

Some of the increase would go towards two contestable pots of money to support smaller community events (up to $150,000) and larger events bringing wider economic benefits to the district (up to $500,000).

The recommendations were adopted by all attendees at forums in Queenstown and Wanaka last month, despite reservations expressed by some events organisers the office could suck up funds that could be granted directly to an event.

The Shaping Our Futures forum established a 10-member events task force last year to explore issues challenging the events industry, such as fragmentation, isolation, timetable competition, lack of shared resources and funding barriers.

Task force members Brent Harridge, Queenstown events manager Simon Green and Remarkables Market representative Olivia Porter presented the task force's recommendations in video-linked forums in Wanaka and Queenstown. Each were attended by about 10 people.

Festival of Colour events co-ordinator Lindsay Schofield, of Wanaka, called for a "lean machine so it is not a whole lot of money going into an office, when that could be taking money away from supporting events".

Ms Schofield suggested the forum recommend the council create a senior events management position to help with leadership and networking, so any increase in rates funding could "go to the coal face rather than an office".

Wanaka events organiser Cathy Dedo suggested there should be more practical support gaining consents for events.

"For example, can donkeys poo in the Dinosaur Park? After all, these are the types of things we are faced with. These are the things that keep event organisers up at night," Mrs Dedo said.

Queenstown businessman Alistair Porter said he believed an events office would eventually need to exist independently of the council and "away from politics".

Challenge Wanaka event organiser Victoria Murray-Orr, of Wanaka, was concerned an events office could start competing with event organisers for the same pool of contestable funds held by outside agencies, such as community trusts.

Mr Green said while other funding partners could be approached, the recommendations should be clarified to address Mrs Murray-Orr's concerns.

It had been made clear early in the forum process an events office was not meant to produce events but would support events, Mr Green said.

The working party believed the council's existing events office, headed by arts and events facilitator Jan Maxwell, was "under-resourced as it is".

However, it was important to keep the new events office a "lean machine offering co-ordination, support and a championing service," Mr Green said.

Deputy mayor Lyal Cocks said any new events strategy needed to make it clear whether the council continued to fund Destination Queenstown (DQ) and Lake Wanaka Tourism through rates.

While DQ chief executive Tony Everitt felt there should be no perceived double-up in rates funding because DQ provided marketing support not event sponsorship, Cr Cocks and Mrs Murray-Orr noted Lake Wanaka Tourism was an event sponsor.

"You don't want to rob Peter to pay Paul in relation to that funding," Mrs Murray-Orr said.

The recommended five-year funding schedule builds on the $380,000 from rates being invested on events.

In the first year, the budget would increase by $175,000 to set up the new office and provide a $50,000 discretionary fund for small community events.

An additional $150,000 would be required in the second year to boost the community events discretionary fund to $150,000.

In year three, $400,000 would be required to create a $250,000 contestable fund for events that bring a significant economic benefit to the district ("economic events"), while continuing the $150,000 discretionary fund for community events.

Another $500,000 would be invested in the fourth and fifth year to further boost the contestable fund for economic events.


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