Thousands of people enjoy Nelson Opera in the Park, but the move to the Covid-19 red setting means next month’s event is now cancelled. (File photo)
Greater central government support is needed for the conference and events sector, says Nelson’s mayor in the wake of the city’s popular Opera in the Park being cancelled.
The large event, due to be held on February 19 and headlined by Kiwi entertainer Stan Walker, was cancelled by the Nelson City Council on Monday after New Zealand moved into the red traffic light setting of the Covid-19 protection framework.
The limitations under the Covid-19 red light setting made holding the opera impossible, said Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese.
Reese was disappointed the council-run opera, which attracts a crowd of thousands, was not going ahead, as other communities around the country who had to cancel events this week would also be.
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Reese said she had real concerns for the conference and events sector generally, and would like to see greater central government support.
She said she had asked the council’s community services group manager to put together a report on the costs to from being in the red setting because a number of council-run events had to be cancelled.
Local government was excluded from seeking protection from a Government payout scheme in case of cancellations of big events this summer, Reese said.
The Events Transition Support Payment scheme is designed to provide assurance to organisers of large-scale summer events, so they could continue organising them under the Covid-19 protection framework. Among the eligibility criteria is that the event must not be solely delivered by local government or other public authorities.
“That puts us at a disadvantage,” Reese said. “We need to have a really good look at the situation.”
That probe needed to be done for local government across the country, not just Nelson, she said.
Reese said she was thinking of Nelson Opera in the Park not going ahead as a postponement, rather than a cancellation, as she hoped it might be able to be staged early next year. Normally the event is held every second year.
“I’m an optimistic person. I’m hoping through the course of 2022 we can get on top of Covid-19.”
About 6000 people attended the last Opera in the Park, but with Stan Walker headlining she believed the crowd would be greater.
“Nelsonians just love it. The quality is very high,” she said.
“We’re going to do all we can to bring it back to the community as soon as possible.”
In other cancellations, the Nelson Music Festival Trust has cancelled the 2022 Adam Summer Celebration to protect the health and safety of its community of musicians, audiences and supporters, while The Antique and Classic Boat Show due to be held at Lake Rotoiti on March 5 has also been cancelled.
The Nelson Buskers Festival and International Kai Festival in Nelson have also been cancelled.