Auckland’s Writers and Readers Festival has taken a 60 per cent funding cut for next year’s event.
Festival director Anne O’Brien said Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) cut its support by $30,000 because there were “too many groups applying”.
ATEED, a council-controlled group, has given $50,000 each year for the last two events, O’Brien said.
Next year organisers will get $20,000.
The Auckland Writers and Readers Festival is a five-day conference mainly held at the central city’s Aotea Centre and The Edge, with 150 writers and thinkers attending from New Zealand and around the world.
This year saw a record-breaking crowd of more than 34,000 attend and box office sales of $350,000, she said.
The charitable trust which organises the festival relies on council and sponsorship, O’Brien said.
But $500,000 of ATEED funding had to be pre-allocated to big Auckland events with the writers and readers festival suffering, O’Brien says.
“We’re never going to be able to compete with those events.”
Hiking ticket prices would hurt patronage, she said.
Councillor Alf Filipaina, who heads Auckland Council’s culture, arts and events forum, said there is nothing they can do but will ask ATEED to reconsider.
Future funding avenues may become available but there are no immediate options, he said.This story has been tweeted and retweeted, quoting the opening line that the festival has had its funding cut by 60%. It’s not true.
What has happened is that one funder has cut its contribution by 60%: this year it gave $50,000 and next year it will give $20,000. So yes, that’s a funding cut of 60% – but from Twitter, and a speed-read of the Stuff article, you’d think the festival’s entire funding has been cut by that much.
ATEED is only one of many sources of funding. I can’t remember what Creative NZ kicks in but when I was on the CNZ panel that decides these things it was $150,000 or so. There are many other sponsors: some in cash, like CNZ; some in kind, like APN/the Listener. I have no idea what the budget is these days, as it is some years since I was on the AWRF board, but it must be a long way over half a million: box office sales alone are $350,000.
The loss of $30,000 will be a blow, but it is nowhere near 10%, let alone 60%, of the total budget.