Event uncertainty continues

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Business bounced back in the first six months of 2021, but covid continues to offer uncertainty for the entertainment industry going forward, says Ashburton Trust Event Centre (ATEC) manager Roger Farr.

The last 18 months had been trying and hard for everyone in the industry and, in all likelihood, the challenges were set to continue until at least the end of the year.

Six months of good trading in the first half of this calendar year had been very welcome and had led by community events, Mr Farr said.

Unlike other venues around the country, ATEC did not rely primarily on touring shows for its income.

For international and national promoters to put on shows those shows needed certainty and were only viable under Level 1.

Over the recent lockdown four events at ATEC had been cancelled and a numerous bookings shifted, in some cases for the third or fourth time, Mr Farr said.

The Government needed to put in firmer timelines for restriction levels, otherwise the situation would continue.

“It seems crazy that a shopping mall with thousands of people in close passing contact is able to operate, yet a venue with a capacity of 500 that has a guaranteed track and trace record through ticket sales and where patrons are seated and ushered in, has a limit of 100.”

One trend of covid had seen patrons put off purchasing tickets until close to the event date.

That delay caused stress for promoters because they did not know how many would attend a performance and for venues that had to put staff rosters together.

“While the industry generally understands the reason for restricted numbers, it flies in the face of what the industry is all about – bringing people together to enjoy each others company in a social environment.”

The industry understood it needed to adapt to new “norms” and initiatives up for discussion included the vaccine passports for entry to venues, Mr Farr said.

-By Mick Jensen