Art Deco Festival cancelled: Covid forces organisers to abandon iconic Napier event

cancelled in art deco frame

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The 2021 Napier Art Deco Festival has been cancelled – just the day before it was due to start.

The decision, including that all event tickets will be refunded, was made late Tuesday afternoon by the trust, after events scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday were cancelled in the previous 48 hours.

New trust chairwoman and former Mayor Barbara Arnott said she, the trust and staff had been together for 48 hours “looking at every which-way” and to go ahead with the remaining events it had needed clear direction from the latest 4pm briefing by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

In the event, with no more Covid-19 cases revealed in the latest of the summaries New Zealand has endured for almost 12 months since New Zealand’s first case was disclosed on February 28 last year, the alert levels announced on Sunday night remain in place at least till midnight tomorrow.

With no hint that it will be relaxed, Arnott said: “We needed to give certainty to the hundreds of entertainers, artists, contractors, event venues and suppliers so that they know where they stand.”

“For the sake of the thousands of festivalgoers, many of whom have accommodation and travel plans booked, it was imperative we made our decision today,” she said

“This has been an incredibly tough decision and we have had to weigh up a huge number of factors and consider several different scenarios in the course of our deliberations,” she said.

“With heavy hearts, we believe this is the only possible option, having already been forced to cancel two of the five days of events.”

It was to have been a particularly significant 33rd annual festival, just after the 90th anniversary of the Hawke’s Bay Earthquake which resulted in the unique city rebuild of the art deco era of the 1930s, thus its celebration promoted by the late Robert McGregor, who was founding president when the trust was established in 1987.

With typical Hawke’s Bay sunshine in abundance in most years, there had never been a festival cancellation until this week when the opening events tomorrow and on Thursday were cancelled. Ultimately logistics became too great to manage and for the festival to see out the other three days to its completion on Sunday.


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