Poor turnout costs city Raggamuffin tour

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Hundreds of people attended the Raggamuffin Roadshow. Photo / Stephen Parker
Hundreds of people attended the Raggamuffin Roadshow. Photo / Stephen Parker

Rotorua may be the home of the Raggamuffin festival but poor crowd numbers at this week's Raggamuffin Roadtrip prompted promoters to declare it won't be coming back to the city.

About 600 people attended the show at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre on Monday night, well below the 1500 organisers had hoped would pack the venue.

Roadtrip promoter, Raggamuffin festival director Jackie Saunders, said Rotorua's future hosting of the reggae festival was safe but the roadtrip would not be back.

She said about 6000 in total packed other venues in Auckland, Christchurch, Porirua and Hastings with sellout crowds in Christchurch and Hastings.

The show featured reggae artists J Boog, Fiji, Spawnbreezie, Hot Rain, Peetah Morgan (Morgan Heritage), Sons of Zion and Soljah.

Ms Sanders said the concert involved 40 people including artists, managers, production engineers and sound and lighting technicians and 600 people didn't make it financially viable.

Although the tour made money overall, Rotorua's takings meant it was well down on what was anticipated.

Early bird tickets cost $49 but the price did not increase because of the poor response, Ms Sanders said. The day before the concert, a special deal of two tickets for the price of one was launched to try and boost numbers but "didn't make much difference".

Ms Sanders conceded the timing of the show might have had something to do with the small crowd, given it was at the end of a long weekend and many people had to work the next day.

"Maybe in hindsight, it was not the best night to do it with people getting ready to go back to work on Tuesday."

However, it was unlikely Rotorua would get another chance to prove it would support the event on another night. "It is shame because we wanted to look at doing stuff during the year ... we found it a really hard market ... We probably won't come back."

On a positive note, she said Rotorua was "totally" the home of the festival.

"Driving into Rotorua with the artists and seeing all the Raggamuffin flags flying down the road was amazing. The artists were saying 'Wow, this really is the home of Raggamuffin'. It is just a shame there were not really many people there."

Events and Venues general manager Peter McLeod said although the numbers were below what was hoped, that could be explained by the fact some of the artists had been regular visitors to Rotorua, as well as the event being hosted on the final day of the holiday weekend.

"We are a regional venue and draw people from the greater Waikato/BOP region. A work day following would have influenced some people from travelling to Rotorua.

"To some degree it was a calculated risk having one of the roadtrip shows in Rotorua when we host the major Raggamuffin festival and on this occasion it appears as if that may not have been the right choice."

Mr McLeod said he still believed the roadtrip would boost the annual festival in Rotorua by giving the roadtrip patrons from elsewhere an enticing teaser to what they could expect at the annual Raggamuffin festival.

This year's Raggamuffin two-day festival brought an estimated $9.5-$10 million into the Rotorua economy.

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