Auckland Arts Festival now an annual event

The Auckland Arts Festival will move from a biennial to an annual event, following a recommendation at Auckland Council’s Finance and Performance Committee.
 
The Auckland Arts Festival has been a biennial event from 2003 to 2015, when the trial began for an annual event. The annual March festival has proved successful, attracting significantly increased numbers year-on-year, as well as managing to attract world-class acts, both national and international, to the delight of Auckland audiences.  
 
In recent years the festival has also made significant efforts to attract new audiences that may not be regular arts patrons by spreading its reach geographically, taking more events to local venues, with performances taking place in Warkworth, Manukau, Glen Innes and the North Shore.
 
The festival has had a positive impact on Auckland and how we, as Aucklanders, see ourselves. It has also left a legacy for the arts in terms of facilities: Councillor Fletcher noted that the origins of the Festival were inextricably linked with the establishment of the Q Theatre complex.
 
Councillor Ross Clow, Chair of the Finance and Performance Committee, commented, “Having a major annual arts event helps build Auckland’s reputation as a vibrant, creative city. It brings a great sense of pride to Aucklanders that they can take part in, and enjoy, these fantastic events that energise our city.
 
“This development will help to differentiate Auckland culturally, leading the arts as the first city of the Pacific. I have no doubt that having an annual event will also attract a greater number of visitors to Auckland and boost our economy.”
 
Below is a summary of the decisions made at the committee. 
 
Items 1-8 were administrative items. 
 
Item 9: Review of funding an annual Auckland Arts Festival
In 2014, the council considered the case for the Auckland Arts Festival to be made an annual event, and agreed to support funding for a trial to take place in 2016. This enabled the festival to take place in 2016, as well as the planned biennial event for 2017.
 
Now that the 2016 and 2017 events have been successfully delivered, the council needed to review whether it should continue to support an annual festival.
 
The council agreed that:
the council would continue to support funding for an annual Auckland Arts Festival;
it would be requested that the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board continues to provide funding to the Auckland Arts Festival Trust to deliver an annual Auckland Arts Festival;
the committee was not being asked to decide on the level of funding, as the Auckland Regional Funding Board would make the ultimate decision on the level of funding provided to the Auckland Festival Trust.
 
Item 10: Hunua Forests Limited – council-controlled organisation exemption
In January 2017, Watercare purchased 100 per cent of the assets of Waytemore Forests Limited to protect the Hunua water catchment area from the impact of commercial forestry activities. The company’s name was subsequently changed to Hunua Forests Limited and harvesting rights for the remaining areas were sold to an external forestry company with additional restrictions on harvesting put in place.
 
Once the current crops are harvested, the land will be restored to native forest and will come back to the council as a park.  
 
The company is now effectively dormant, and the intention is to wind it up during the 2018 financial year.
 
The council agreed to pass the motion to exempt Hunua Forests Limited from the Local Government Act 2002 regarding council-controlled organisation accountability requirements.
 
Item 11: Funding of Panuku work in the Unlock locations
Panuku was formed in late 2015 looking to step up the council’s footprint in the urban regeneration, to transform selected locations.
 
The priority locations suggested for investment form a regionally significant redevelopment and regeneration programme approved by the council which will make a significant contribution to the delivery of the growth strategy, in particular the intensification of the urban area and focus of growth in centres aligned with good transport accessibility and transport investment. These are not to the exclusion of other town centres, but are priority sites for the region.
 
The council noted the proposal that proceeds of property sales from the agreed ‘Unlock and Transform’ locations (excepting the Waterfront) be used to fund capital projects and initiatives in the Unlock and Transform programme to deliver the outcomes articulated in the council-approved high-level project plans, while still returning some surpluses to the council.
 
These would be subject to projects already endorsed and subject to business cases approved by the Panuku board and referred to the Finance and Performance Committee for consideration and prioritisation as part of the 2018-2028 Long-term Plan.  
 
Item 12: Approval of Group policies
The committee approved the group policies on insurance and procurement as outlined in attachments A and B and noted the progress on the development of policies on treasury, sensitive expenditure and business cases.
 
Item 13: Approval of Watercare Services Limited Statement of Intent 2017 – 2020
The Committee agreed the Watercare Services Limited Statement of Intent for 2017-2020. This is the main document for recording what the council wants to achieve through the activities of its council-controlled organisations for the next three years, as per the requirements and process prescribed in the Local Government Act 2002, Schedule 8.
 
Watercare activities are to include western isthmus water quality improvement programme; Safeswim; and the development of a Three Waters Strategy, among other things.
 
Item 14: Budget update September 2017
The committee agreed to fund the recommended projects in the Panuku Budget, including allocation of the Takapuna off-street car park reserve fund to the Gasometer public car park project; the remaining funding for the Gasometer public car park project be sourced from the Strategic Development Fund, which will be replenished by asset sale proceeds, including properties approved for disposal in the Unlock Takapuna High Level Project Plan; and to release funding from the existing Transform Manukau programme budget for both Transform Manukau, and Transform Onehunga.
 
Item 15: Information report 19 September 2017 
The committee received the information report – 19 September 2017.
 
The agenda is available on Auckland Council’s website and minutes will be added once confirmed. This meeting was also webcast on the council’s website and items are available on demand.
 
ENDS
 
About Auckland Arts Festival:
More than 196,000 people attended the 2017 Auckland Arts Festival (165,000 in 2016), of which over 130,000 attended free events.
More than 32 per cent of attendees are new audiences.
Artists from more than 22 countries took part in the 2016 and 2017 festivals.
World-class international shows that would not otherwise be seen in Auckland attracted a wide audience: The James Plays (Scotland); The Encounter (UK); Natalia Osipova (Russia); Chorus Oedipus (Korea); Cloudgate Dance Company (Taiwan).
Close to 6,000 school students and their teachers attended festival events and heavily subsidised ticketed shows in both 2016 and 2017. Students from decile 1-2 schools accounted for 25 per cent of attendances.
Through various and diverse programming and increased accessibility, the festival is growing younger audiences year-on-year (47 per cent of audiences are under 45 years of age).