Ratepayers hit up for $1.25 million for carnival

Katie Chapman at Dom Post reports:

The Cuba St Carnival is back – but not as you know it.

Five years after funding woes ended the carnival, a new festival will be launched as one of two new events designed to bolster the capital’s events calendar.

As well as putting $250,000 towards a new Cuba St festival next year, the Wellington City Council is planning a New Year’s Eve celebration.

The announcement of the two events comes on the back of criticism that the council was not putting enough focus on boosting the city’s economy.

The last Cuba St Carnival was held in 2009, but the loss of council funding and spiralling costs saw the event canned in 2010. The Creative Capital Arts Trust was set up in 2011, with rejuvenating the event a key purpose.

Yesterday, the trust and the council confirmed a new festival would launch next year. The basic premise of an event celebrating Cuba St would stay the same, but the event would be different, trust chairman Tim Brown said.

The new annual event – called the Cuba St Festival for now – will run for two days in late March or early April.

The old carnival had become too big in both size and budget, Mr Brown said. The new event would cost about $500,000 for the first year.

I’m not against the ratepayers making a modest contribution to key events in Wellington. But $1.25 million over five years is a huge amount of money, and represents half the total cost of the festival. That’s too much.

The announcement comes after Kirkcaldie & Stains managing director John Milford’s criticism of the council last week for failing to help boost retail activity.

Mr Milford welcomed news of the two events yesterday, saying it was exactly what was needed to help bring vibrancy to the city.

If the event is to help retailers, should it not be funded from their rates, rather than everyone’s rates?

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