The recent Covid-19 level 3 lockdown had a big impact on events focused on the America’s Cup, including the one in Ōrewa.
The local business improvement district (BID), Destination Ōrewa Beach, ran the event. It was funded by Ōrewa businesses, which were required to pay a one-off 14.4 percent increase in the annual BID levy (targeted rate). Ten percent of this – $25,776 – was primarily to fund the event.
When Destination Ōrewa increased the levy, last June, it was because the Cup event was expected to be an economic driver, mainly for hospitality and retail, as well as generating foot traffic.
Originally planned as a Team NZ fan zone, three-day festival with the racing on an outdoor screen, the change that lockdown made to the timing of races meant the event lost its Cup focus and became two days of food trucks and movies on March 19 and 20. The second day included the annual Sandcastle Competition, also rescheduled to March 20.
Destination Ōrewa Beach operations manager Hellen Wilkins says they were “gutted” to lose the Cup element.
“The impacts were huge but many other town centres had far bigger losses – we still managed to run an event, just not the event intended,” she says. “There were also a lot of logistical problems as there were so many events deferred from the past two weekends by the lockdown.”
She says the first day was quiet, with windy cool weather, but Saturday was busy. “Attendance would have been bigger if there had been racing and the bars and restaurants would have been far busier as the screen was initially placed where it could be seen from adjacent eateries,” she says.
Businesses spoken to by Hibiscus Matters felt it would have been wiser to hold onto the $25,000 and come up with a new plan in discussion with Destination Ōrewa’s members.
Good Hub Eatery owner Kerry Semiz says she ordered extra icecream and put on more staff because last year she was so busy when the sandcastle event was on.
“When there’s something on, it brings people into Ōrewa which is good for us,” she says. “But we weren’t very busy that weekend, and customers said they didn’t know the event was on. It was difficult to promote it, given the changing dates, but we certainly didn’t get anything much out of it.”
Shoreward co-owner Stephen Dalziel agrees, saying he did the normal Saturday trade. “There was a movie screen but you couldn’t see it from here, so there was nothing much for us in it,” he says.
“Perhaps Destination Ōrewa could knock a bit off its next levy?”
With bills still coming in, Mrs Wilkins says the scaled down event cost around $36,500, although she is not prepared to break those figures down due to commercial sensitivity.
“The largest costs were the screen and bringing the sand sculptors from Christchurch,” she says. “All costs were negotiated. We don’t have an issue sharing budgets generally, but in this instance we are protective of commercial arrangements.”
She says as well as the $25,776 BID levy, local board funding, the organisation’s events fund budget, fees from food trucks and Barfoot & Thompson sponsorship is expected to cover the costs but anything further will be underwritten by Destination Ōrewa.
Backstories www.localmatters.co.nz June 3, 2020.