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Entertainment and events industry leaders say New Zealand Government is letting the sector ‘slowly die’

Entertainment and events industry leaders say New Zealand Government is letting the sector ‘slowly die’
September 10, 2020

With the country’s entertainment and events industry having seen 20,000 cancellations or postponements as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark Gosling, trust member of Entertainment Venues Association New Zealand (EVANZ) has accused the New Zealand Government of “letting the industry slowly die”.

Commenting following the release of data earlier this week that showed 50% of all events planned for 2020 had been impacted, Gosling told New Zealand news website Stuff “people are going and finding other jobs and giving up on our industry. Those people won’t come back. It is a slowly unfolding tragedy.

“We need to have that conversation to put a framework in place to safely run events at different levels.”

Stuff also reported that New Zealand Health Ministry officials failed to attend a meeting with industry executives to which it was invited last week.

Mark Gosling, who is Chief Executive of Auckland’s Trusts Arena, was quoted by Stuff as sating the officials’ no-show was “absolutely” not good enough.

He added “we don’t have a plan ... (and) we are not finding anyone in the Ministry of Health we can have a conversation with.”

The goal of the meeting had been to help find a way forward for the industry to operate safely at the changing alert levels, which have largely hampered the ability of the sector to plan anything large-scale which would see organisers make any significant profit.

Conducted by the New Zealand Events Association (NZEA), Conventions & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ), EVANZ, Entertainment Technology New Zealand (ETNZ) and the New Zealand Promoters Association (NZPA), the data released on Monday showed that across 361 responding organisations, 20,000 New Zealand events had been cancelled or postponed as a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Reported as estimating that the 50% of overall cancelled events was far lower than reality, Gosling told Stuff the other half either “a long way in the future, hanging on, or much smaller events”

He went on to state “it feels like we are being ignored ... we are not being deemed important in the greater collective struggle. It is like we are an acceptable loss, collateral damage.”

Ségolène de Fontenay, NZEA General Manager said the alert level system did not work for the majority of event organisers, urging flexibility with the system, and calling for a comprehensive review of the impacts of COVID-19 on the sector and its sub-sectors was needed.

She advised “events are planned well in advance, it is not like with 48-hours notice you can put one on again.”

Karyn Delves, from Marlborough ASB Theatre, said no venue wanted to be on the front page for the wrong reasons - to be the next cluster or outbreak – advised Stuff that the impact of restrictions has been hard.

Advising that she had stood down the Theatre’s casual staff and cleaner, that the entire team had taken pay cuts and no vacant positions had been replaced, Delves explained that shows have not been able to be regularly held but overhead costs remain.

Stating that a balanced, constructive dialogue needed to happen to allow the sector to prove its commitment to operating safely, Delves told Stuff “we want to be part of the solution, not the problem.”

Responding to officials not attending last week’s meeting, a Health Ministry spokesperson stated that the Ministry is happy to engage and only declined to attend the workshop because it was notified of it on short notice by organisers.

Stuff quoted the spokesperson as advising that the invitation to last week’s meeting that came “in the middle of the current alert level decision-making period”, was only given to the Ministry on the same day.

Images: Marlborough's ASB Theatre, said whose future is reported as being at the "mercy" of alert levels (top) and Mark Gosling (below, courtesy of Sally-Anne Coates).

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