Art Deco Festival cancelled due to covid restrictions
The 2021 Napier Art Deco Festival has been cancelled – just the day before it was due to start.
The decision, including that all event tickets will be refunded, was made late this afternoon by the trust, after events scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday were cancelled in the previous 48 hours.
New trust chairwoman and former Mayor Barbara Arnott told Hawke’s Bay Today she, the trust and staff had been together for 48 hours “looking at every which-way” and to go ahead with the remaining events it had needed clear direction from the latest 4pm briefing by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
In the event, with no more Covid-19 cases revealed in the latest of the summaries New Zealand has endured for almost 12 months since New Zealand’s first case was disclosed on February 28 last year, the alert levels announced on Sunday night remain in place at least till midnight tomorrow.
With no hint that it will be relaxed, Arnott said: “We needed to give certainty to the hundreds of entertainers, artists, contractors, event venues and suppliers so that they know where they stand.”
“For the sake of the thousands of festivalgoers, many of whom have accommodation and travel plans booked, it was imperative we made our decision today,” she said
“This has been an incredibly tough decision and we have had to weigh up a huge number of factors and consider several different scenarios in the course of our deliberations,” she said.
“With heavy hearts, we believe this is the only possible option, having already been forced to cancel two of the five days of events.”
It was to have been a particularly significant 33rd annual festival, just after the 90th anniversary of the Hawke’s Bay Earthquake which resulted in the unique city rebuild of the art deco era of the 1930s, thus its celebration promoted by the late Robert McGregor, who was founding president when the trust was established in 1987.
With typical Hawke’s Bay sunshine in abundance in most years, there had never been a festival cancellation until this week when the opening events tomorrow and on Thursday were cancelled. Ultimately logistics became too great to manage and for the festival to see out the other three days to its completion on Sunday.
While the global pandemic had already knocked-out the cruise-line and other overseas-visitor component, the trust had still expected a big influx including hundreds of mobile homes and camper vans from around the country and big Hawke’s Bay interest, in particular in big public events such as air shows and the Charter Parade through the Napier CBD.
Arnott, who attended her first trust meeting only last month, described it as “a nightmare”, but the trust had to think of all those involved from organisers and hosts to paying public, who in some cases would have no longer been able to travel to Hawke’s Bay had the festival continued.
“Obviously we wanted to hold an event if it were at all possible,” she said. “It was so disappointing that at this stage, on Tuesday, we did not know whether we could stage an event on Thursday.”
Put on hold pending further decisions, logistics had ranged from putting in place facilities such as marquees to meeting catering costs for food and beverages for the events.
With some visitors in town regardless, hosts of some smaller events and gatherings were expected to be still considering whether they could continue with their plans, without the core attractions and umbrella of the festival.
Arnott stressed the calamity of cancellation does not impact on the continuation of the festival, and in some situations may have saved it.
The trust had pre-scheduled a strategic planning meeting of trustees and staff for next month.
Meanwhile, plans are on tenterhooks for several other events in Hawke’s Bay over the next six weeks, including the national track and field athletics championships in Hastings on March 5-7, two Crowded House concerts are booked for 9000-fan capacity Church Road Winery in Taradale on the Saturday and Sunday of the same weekend, the Horse of the Year Show is in Hastings from March 9-14, the national pipe band championships on March 19-20, international men’s Twenty20 cricket is scheduled for McLean Park, Napier on March 23, and the Big (and little) Easy trail rides are scheduled for April 2-3.
Pipe band championships organising group chairman Kerry Marshall said the Otago-Southland region will test-run an event under Covid-19 level 2 alert conditions this weekend, helping determine under what conditions the championships could be held.
Among the possibilities could be marching two metres apart when normal practice for the bands is about a metre apart.