Mayor hopes Womad and Taft can work together for 2022 festival

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Womad attracts about 17,000 people a day to New Plymouth's Brooklands Park every March but next year's event has been cancelled.

Simon O’Connor/Stuff

Womad attracts about 17,000 people a day to New Plymouth’s Brooklands Park every March but next year’s event has been cancelled.

New Plymouth’s mayor is hopeful the cancellation of Womad NZ 2021 will give the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust a chance to get its partnership back.

In November, Taranaki Arts Festival Trust chief (Taft) executive Suzanne Porter announced the trust had pulled out of Womad NZ because of the risk of losing up to $3.5 million if the event had to be cancelled due to a Covid-19 lockdown.

Taft had wanted to postpone the 2021 event but the United Kingdom-based Womad Limited was unwilling and terminated the trust’s production partner agreement.

At the time, Womad International said it was looking for other potential partners for a 2021 event.

READ MORE:
* It’s official – Womad NZ is cancelled for 2021
* Womad NZ production partner pulls out over $3.5m risk, but organisers confident 2021 event will go ahead
* Funding welcomed, but no decision yet on Womad 2021

But on Friday, Womad International’s Chris Smith announced the three-day festival would be canned 2021 as it was unable to secure a partner producer.

Porter and Smith couldn’t be reached for comment on whether the past partnership could be rekindled.

Mayor Neil Holdom said the cancellation showed Taft made the right decision to pull out, and hoped it would be able to reconnect with Womad International and develop a plan for 2022.

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom is hopeful Taft and Womad International can restore the past relationship, so the trust can continue running Womad in New Zealand in the future.

Simon O’Connor/Stuff

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom is hopeful Taft and Womad International can restore the past relationship, so the trust can continue running Womad in New Zealand in the future.

“That outcome will be the best for Womad in New Zealand and the best for Taranaki.”

“We know they’ve [Taft] got the magic, they know how to make it work, they’ve got the support of the region.”

The council had always been 100 per cent behind Taft, but there was no way it would have been able to support the event during a pandemic, Holdom said.

“I don’t think the ratepayers of New Plymouth or any organisation would have wanted to underwrite that multimillion-dollar risk.”

He said he wasn’t aware of another event being booked at the Bowl to cover the Womad dates, which were March 12-14, but if something was to come up, council would take the opportunity.

The three-day Womad festival is a massive boost for the Taranaki economy.

Andy Jackson/Stuff

The three-day Womad festival is a massive boost for the Taranaki economy.

Most FM trust chair Mark Dickie said he was disappointed Womad would not be going ahead, but it protected the event coming back in the future.

“If they went ahead and something terrible happened we might not see Womad here ever again.”

The one-year break was a good opportunity for Womad and Taft to reset and collaborate again in 2022, he said.

It also gave people the opportunity to support more local acts, as international acts could be off the cards for some time, he said.

“But get out and support the local ones. There’s plenty of good local music happening.”

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