Summerfest set to carry on

By Natalie Dixon

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Summerfest looks to have gained a reprieve at the 11th hour, thanks to the backing of a mystery supporter.
Summerfest looks to have gained a reprieve at the 11th hour, thanks to the backing of a mystery supporter.

Summerfest organisers are this week expected to announce the popular Tauranga music festival will go ahead, thanks to the help of a mystery supporter.

The board of Creative Tauranga, that organises Summerfest, were to meet at 8am today to look at options and cement the future of the drug- and alcohol-free festival.

No one would comment on where the lifeline was coming from, but the Bay of Plenty Times understands final negotiations were under way with a large organisation.

Summerfest was last week in doubt after Tauranga City Council voted not to free up funding for the annual event.

But yesterday Creative Tauranga chairman Grant Sowter said the newly elected council and the possibility of new funding negotiations had boosted the board's confidence.

He said Creative Tauranga staff were going over "all the options" and while he could not confirm anything, he was positive a solution could be found.

"We can't confirm anything right now but after announcing Summerfest may be scrapped we had a lot of support from the community and different organisations who don't want to see this festival die," Mr Sowter said.

"Some of the people that have come forward were not in our conversation previously but they wanted to be involved because they see value in a drug- and alcohol-free music festival for Tauranga's young people.

"All of a sudden all these possibilities that were not around a week ago are now on the table and that feels hopeful."

Mr Sowter said many of the people who approached the board to help were angry about the lack of youth events in Tauranga.

"A week ago, after we found out we would not get funding from council, I was feeling really discouraged and thinking maybe we are doing the wrong thing, trying to push an alcohol- and drug-free event for young people here.

"Now I know we are doing the right thing.

"What I have seen in just a few days proves that people in Tauranga do have real heart for the right event.

"And Summerfest is the right event, it is a priority to our community.

"When we meet we will be looking at a number of factors, including if the funding is in the right place, and if everything lines up we will be looking at going ahead with Summerfest."

Re-elected Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby yesterday encouraged the board to move ahead with planning, saying the new council would be "more supportive than the old one".

"I have spoken with the chief executive and council staff and we are confident we can find an appropriate amount of money for Summerfest, despite the previous council's resolution to only offer in-kind support," he said.

"It will not be a huge amount but it will be enough to give the board confidence going ahead."

Cr Crosby said he would encourage the board to plan the event around the resources it had, saying Summerfest was not all about headline acts.

"I would say that sometimes you have to reduce certain elements to keep within budget," Cr Crosby said.

"Summerfest is all about live music for young people in a drug- and alcohol-free environment and that can mean showcasing more local talent, rather than expensive headline acts."

The previous council's offer of in-kind support was still on the table, Cr Crosby said.

"We just have to re-prioritise, it is my view that the resources are there."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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