Whangamata Beach Hop legend Noddy Watts says music festival organisers and audiences can plan for summer with confidence following news this week that the Government will come to the rescue if Covid threatens big events.
The Events Transition Support Scheme announced by Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash says the scheme allows festival organisers to better plan and incur costs.
"Organisers of large-scale summer festivals have to make decisions now about whether to proceed as their risk window is closing.
"There aren't insurance options in the market to cover this so the Government is stepping up," says Nash.
Under the scheme, the Government will cover 90 per cent of unrecoverable costs for paid, ticketed events with audiences of more than 5000 vaccinated people, if organisers are forced to cancel or postpone due to Covid-19 public health measures.
Watts has two new festivals planned in the new year and says he thinks the Government's new scheme is fantastic.
"Event organisers have been screaming for tools that help to get festivals done safely this summer. The scheme takes at least the financial risk away which is really reassuring."
Organiser of the newly developed Dance Farm Festival in Whangamata, Denis Beaver from Coro-Events will also be happy to hear about the Government's scheme as he just revealed that indie pop superstar Benee will headline the inaugural summer festival, on January 8, joining a line-up of Kiwi talent that includes Mitch James, Niko Walters and AACACIA.
"We're especially pleased that this event will be open to all those who are vaccinated from 15 years of age in line with Government guidelines. We're all set for what's shaping up to be an awesome summer of live events.
"Whangamata is more than ready to host some of the biggest names in Kiwi music! With Benee having joined our incredible home-grown line-up, Dance Farm is a summer festival that you won't want to miss. The countdown is on!" Beaver says.
Benee, born Stella Bennett, says she is stoked to be the festival's headliner.
"We all have a part to play to save this summer and keep everyone safe, so please get vaccinated so you can attend! I can't wait to get back to playing more shows and sharing a bunch of new music I've been working on throughout 2021! See ya soooon!"
Watts says he is confident that both his new festivals, the Kickdown Festival set for January and the Hootnanny Festival set for February, will go ahead. However, as Watts thinks both festivals fulfill the Government's criteria, he will apply for the scheme as soon as applications open to have and provide more security.
Tickets for the Kickdown and Hootnanny Festival have already been on sale since September, but after an initial increase in ticket sales, Watts says the sales have slowed down in the last couple of weeks.
"The scheme is a huge thing, because we have more security. It's not only great for us organisers, but also for the people that we can now give more confidence, because we can offer refunds in case the event is cancelled."
Nash says: "Organisers of these festivals are great entrepreneurs who give back to our communities. They take a lot of risk to deliver fantastic experiences that are part of the cultural fabric of a Kiwi summer and create lasting memories.
"Big summer events are crucial for our economic and social wellbeing. We are in a unique period of transition from the alert level system to the new Protection Framework which relies on 90 per cent vaccination rates. An immediate solution is needed this summer."
Watts says that the Government's funding would still not answer all questions and although the Government announced that vaccine passports will be mandatory, event organisers don't know what the enforcement of that will look like.
"How is this gonna work - will there be scanners or additional staff to check visitors vaccination passports? We need more direction from Government what our tools are going to be."
To check the criteria and apply for the Events Transition Support Scheme click here.
For more information on the Dance Farm Festival click here.