The Tauranga Arts Festival has become the latest event to fall victim to the current Covid-19 community outbreak.
Live performances at this year’s event, scheduled to take place between October 21-31, have been cancelled.
A statement from the Festival’s Trust Board cites severe impacts on rehearsal and preparation time for many of the theatre shows, and the curtailed period for marketing and promoting the festival as reasons to cancel the event.
“We have been working through an unknown landscape,” says board chair Kathryn Lellman.
“The arrival in the community of the Delta variant of Covid-19 changed that landscape again and we felt that the uncertainty around fast-moving changes to alert levels, and changes to the restrictions within those alert levels, left us with no option but to cancel.”
The Trust say they support the Government’s decision to apply these restrictions in the face of the Delta variant but that they have significant ramifications for the events and performing arts sectors.
“We were so looking forward to sharing our 2021 programme with the people of Tauranga Moana, but the festival team fully supports the need to cancel,” says Gabrielle Vincent, the festival’s artistic director.
“It’s a huge disappointment, but it’s also just how things are at present. We will regroup and be back. Our hearts go out to all the artists and companies around Aotearoa who have been affected by the lockdown.”
A silver lining is that at Level 2 the festival will still be able to offer its specially commissioned soundwalk, Te Manawataki o Mauao by Riki Gooch with Sonicity, from October 21-31. For 10 days, Tauranga Moana residents and Level 2 visitors will be able to experience the "rhythmic pulse of Mauao with a walking performance specific to our maunga".
In partnership with Supercut Projects, Tauranga Art Gallery and The Elms Te Papa Tauranga, the Trust will also offer public and free-to-access artworks, created by both local and national artists.
The community will be able to see the rich visual arts programme across the Tauranga CBD, at The Elms and in Tauranga Art Gallery. The works scattered around the central city are both a celebration and a reflection of Tauranga Moana.
The festival team is now working on plans for an expanded version of the Escape! festival over Queen’s Birthday Weekend 2022 and exploring options for other special offerings next year.
Festival staff are in discussions with funders and sponsors about the cancellation. Tickets already purchased will be fully refundable through Ticketek.