8 Jun 2009

New Plymouth councillors underwrite music festival

7:06 pm on 8 June 2009

New Plymouth District Councillors have put public money on the line to retain the annual WOMAD international music festival in the city.

Organisers asked councillors to underwrite WOMAD with $200,000, saying sponsorship is elusive in the recession and other districts were seeking to host the event.

On Monday, New Plymouth councillors voted unanimously to underwrite the event after an appeal from the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust.

Councillor Lance Girling-Butcher says they have shouldered the risk previously borne by festival trustees.

The $200,000 guarantee will cover any losses by the festival and the region's International Arts and Rhododendron festivals for a year, while the council develops a permanent policy.

The trust spends $2.9 million to stage the event. It broke even this year after losing money in 2008. This year the festival brought $5.4 million into the Taranaki economy

But business manager Chris Herlihy says outside sponsorship is getting harder to secure in today's tough times.

Since 2003, the TSB community trust has cut its funding by 70% and the district council's share of the budget has halved to 7%.