November 13, 2009

Christchurch Arts Festival in trouble

Editor    posted 4 Nov 2009, 12:38 PM / edited 4 Nov 2009, 12:38 PM

News broke last week that the Christchurch Arts Festival (CAF) is in financial trouble. Given gossip mills are turning I thought it was worth putting up this article from The Press – and asking if anyone can offer an update, share an experience or state their opinion on this situation. 


By CHRISTOPHER MOORE – Arts editor – The Press

The Press Homepage  Last updated 05:00 29/10/2009

The Christchurch Arts Festival Trust has laid off most of its 18 staff and has up to $500,000 in debts, sources say.

Nearly four weeks after the trust met the Christchurch City Council to apparently request a financial bailout, it refuses to comment.

It is believed the festival’s debt could be as high as $500,000 after major losses during this year’s July-August event. It is understood many of this year’s festival artists, performers and organisations have not yet been paid.

Most of the festival’s 18 fulltime and part-time staff were laid off several weeks ago, sources said.

Former artistic director Guy Boyce would not comment on his apparent dismissal by the trust. It was understood he had signed a confidentiality agreement.

The festival also provides administrative services for The Press Christchurch Writers Festival. However, the writers festival funds are separate and the event is not affected.

The future of the Cabaret Festival, which is also managed by the arts festival, is unclear.

Christchurch Arts Festival chairwoman Clare Murray said yesterday that the organisation was facing challenges, but the “board was committed to finding a solution that means the festival continues”.

“We are continuing to talk with our partners to find a way forward together,” she said.

“We appreciate that the general public want to know what is happening and you have our commitment that as soon as we have a resolution, we will provide all the relevant detail.”

Yesterday, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker indicated discussions were continuing “in an effort to find a sustainable way forward”.

Creative New Zealand has also been involved in talks with the festival board and the city council.

Nic Farra              posted 9 Nov 2009, 12:13 PM

 To think that:

a) Mr Moore had the gall to publish unsubstantiated nonsense

b) The Press editor saw fit to put it on the front page

c) This kind of mischief making qualifies as ‘news’

In my view this is typical yellow press-style rumour mongering. ‘Sources say’ is that wonderful catch-all of the tabloids who must of course, protect their sources. It means anyone can say anything and you don’t need a shred of evidence to back it up. That it’s virtually the only way to get the arts on the front page is especially annoying. If it bleeds, it leads after all.

John Smythe      posted 9 Nov 2009, 03:02 PM

Thanks for that, Nic.  So can anyone tell us what IS actually happening with the Christchurch Arts Festival?

Michael Smythe                posted 9 Nov 2009, 03:14 PM / edited 14 Nov 2009, 01:25 PM

Calm down Nic! Where is your evidence that the Moore story is unsubstantiated? We were in Christchurch in mid October [not mid July as previously stated] and had dinner with friend who was among the Festival contractors and emlpoyees who had just lost their jobs.

Anna Dodgshun                posted 10 Nov 2009, 08:26 PM

I did some casual work for the festival and was paid promptly and in full.  However, I know several people who have not been paid what the festival owes them – some quite decent sums in some cases, and others who have been paid but were paid very late.

Nic Farra              posted 13 Nov 2009, 03:45 PM / edited 19 Nov 2009, 11:53 AM

 So the guts of the story is that the festival may have lost some money – like a lot of festivals do; that some people have lost their jobs – which may or may not be typical. I didn’t notice any comparisons in the article; and that some people haven’t been paid.

I actually like a little more substance in my news than that, but I suppose there’s no use in looking for high standards of journalism in a paper that regularly publishes rumour and innuendo in place of hard news or features populist ‘grieving family’ or ‘cuddly pet’ images in preference to images that encapsulate yer 1000 words.

My main gripe is that the above could be summed up in a paragraph and I would be no less in the dark. It seems that the only way to get the arts on the front page is this kind of right-wing vested interest beat-up or a photo of a nude performer.

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