The Eye of the Fish

June 4, 2010

Rocky road for Cuba Carni

Front page news today that the Cuba Carnival is canned for next year, and that the future of the whole event is in doubt: Oh No, Say It Isn’t So! That sucks – it really does. The Cuba Carnival really is one of the high-lights of living in Wellington – the colours, the parades, the music, the clothes (or lack of), the food, and oh, did I mention the music? We do live here in a fairly staid, primarily anglo-saxon culture, and the introduction of the latin influences adds a zing to the whole city that resonates throughout the year. Please reconsider Kerry !

Plus, Batucada rock!

And all the smaller cultural groups get to play a part!

While I can understand that there is a bit of a hoopla over the Rugby World Cup next year, that is over an event that is not known for creativity, is totally male dominated, and really only relevant for the sports-mad. Personally, I couldn’t give a flying fish toss for the moronic sport of rugby or the mostly moronic supporters – the whole culture of beer drinking fat lads and ridiculous running up and down a muddy field clutching a ball was something I happily left behind in school. The lengths that this city is going to, for the 2 or 4 nights that there are actually games on in the Cake Tin, seems ridiculous – and the proposed Weta sculpture, glorifying a jumping rugby lineout, is just ugly, tacky, and ridiculously expensive at $350k.

The city would be far better off to fund the Cuba Carnival, and scrap the statue. Priorities!

4 - 06 - 10

Yeah, I’m gutted to hear this.

I hadn’t realised that damned statue cost so much. I agree — can it and spend the money on the carnival.

I do feel that the DomPost story failed to answer some important questions. Why did the carnival organisers ask for twice as much money? What does the council spend on comparable events?

4 - 06 - 10

I don’t think you can blame Kerry for this – just the ambitions of the CC organisers – Hayden Green provides a more considered response in Field Theory:

Cancellation Notice | Jun 04, 2010 09:29
Blasted across the front of Stuff’s homepage, and subsequently tweeted by a large number of folks, was this headline: PARTY’S OVER: Cuba Carnival Cancelled!. And you know who’s to blame? That’s right, the rugby.

The Wellington Council has put aside money for the World Cup next year and so couldn’t accommodate the $500,000 organiser Chris Morley-Hall had asked for. But according to the article the council usually gives the carnival $200,000.

A smaller funding request would be considered. Any cancellation was the decision of organisers.

Spending on the Rugby World Cup was not affecting the council’s decision, [council spokeswoman Michelle Brooker] said. The council has so far put aside $350,000 for a sculpture for the tournament, as well as $100,000 for a cup village.

So it wasn’t rugby then. It was some rising costs somewhere in the organisation of the carnival. The increase in expense may actually be because it’s being held in the same year as the World Cup and Morley-Hall wanted to do something bigger and better. Hopefully someone asks him that soon.

The eagle-eyed financiers amongst you will have noticed that the council could scrap their ill-thought-out, slightly vaginal statue, give that to the carnival and still have $50,000 in change. I’d probably support that.

But can we please be clear, this is not about rugby versus art. That is an argument I hate. And it’s keeps coming up; it is as relevant as pastry versus dolphins. You can have both.,

John Clarke
4 - 06 - 10

So what is with the $100K for a “cup village”? I assume the council actually mean a tent on the waterfront for the rugby fat-boys to binge drink in … remind me again why we need one of those.

4 - 06 - 10

Greetings Maximus and chums. We welcome the moderating words re rugby versus art because there is more than just a sniff of snobbery in some of the comments. m-d is correct – rugby and art can co-exist – and something tells me that ‘binge-drinking’ and fat boys are just as likely to occur among the grooverati at the carnival as they are during the Rugby World Cup. Suffice to say there was a lot missing from the DomPost yarn this morning – which prompted us to get this release together this afternoon.
Richard MacLean – WCC Communications

Cuba Street Carnival – clarification
Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast has denied as “absolutely untrue” reports that the 2011 Cuba St Carnival has been cancelled because the Council is not committed to funding it and is spending money on the Rugby World Cup instead.
The Council has been working with the Cuba Street Carnival and Fringe Arts trusts since last year on forming a new trust focused on delivering and developing events for emerging artists in Wellington.
Mayor Prendergast says the Council committed $75,000 toward helping establish the trust and has not received any formal funding request for the 2011 Cuba St Carnival.
“As far as the Council is concerned we are still working with the trust and a report detailing the steps to establish it is being finalised at the moment.
“We have always been supportive of the Cuba St Carnival and contributed approximately $300,000 last year. The suggested figure of $500,000 was taken out of context and included a much wider range of events that the Council and Cuba St Carnival Collective Trust had been discussing.
“The Rugby World Cup has been budgeted completely separately from community events and major events. It is absolutely not drawing Council funding from any other events in the city.”
Nick Simcock, Chair of the Cuba St Carnival Collective, says a decision was made at the last board meeting that is was not feasible for the new trust to run an event of the Cuba Carnival’s scale in its first year of operation.
“We decided the focus should be on identifying appropriate trustees, building relationships with stakeholders and engaging appropriately qualified staff instead.
“We think it is in the best interest of Wellington City, the performers and the 150,000 carnival attendees for us to plan for a successful carnival in the longer term rather than compromise its authenticity because we have committed to an unrealistic timeframe in a very difficult financial environment.”
The steering group for the new trust, made up of representatives from the Carnival and Fringe Trusts, is working with other creative interests, including Wellington City Council, on a long-term strategy to retain and build Wellington’s status as New Zealand’s leading centre for arts events and emerging artists.

4 - 06 - 10

m-d – dammit, Mr Green is right, of course, and coins a better phrase than me: “as relevant as pastry versus dolphins. You can have both.” What a great phrase – as surreal as a fish on a bicycle, and yet a lot more tasty. Although pastry vs dolphins would be a match I’d love to see – I suspect those cetaceans would make short work of the pastry.

Sigh. The crux of the matter is, as Hayden points out, that Morley Hall has asked for more money than he got before. And obviously, with the dire financial situation we’re all in, there aren’t many other backers out there with deep pockets.

However: if, say, there wasn’t a Rugby World Cup on, and there was a Cuba Carnival planned, would the Council still can the Carni because of just a shortfall of 300k ? I think probably not…. And if you had a choice between a sculpture that would be there for 150 years, and a Carni for a weekend, would you chose the short term fun over the long term “artistic” objet d’arte ? Hmmmmm…… And if you wanted to spend 100k on a large tent in a “cup village”, then would you also need to spend 11million on a whare waka to be used as a rugby cup drinking centre as well?

4 - 06 - 10

And while I was writing that, Mr Maclean nipped in and released that press release – thanks Richard ! That clears things up quite a lot – looking forward to a big retraction and apology from the Dom tomorrow then !

4 - 06 - 10

Maximus – just a couple of picky points: first one being somewhat depressingly obvious – ie that you’ll be waiting a hell of a long time for the DomPost to volunteer any apology or retraction – working for the media means never having to say sorry (etc etc etc). It’s also not the Council that’s canning the carnival – and we’re also not building the Wharewaka. The parties involved are the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, Wellington Tenths Trust, Palmerston North Maori Reserve Trust and the Council – collectively we are contributing more than $4m, with $7m coming from the Government. Anyway – picky picky picky.
Richard MacLean – WCC Communications

5 - 06 - 10

you are, sir, refreshingly forthcoming. And right to be picky – my excuse : long week, Friday night, etc. So, thanks for the clarifications.
Here’s the next day’s Dom Post take on the matter:

“Carnival Collective chairman Nick Simcock said the main reason for the cancellation was the difficult economic environment. Sponsors had been directing their money toward the Rugby World Cup.
“No-one’s more acutely disappointed than us. It was a very difficult decision.”
The council had been supportive, and he was confident it would have provided funding if the festival had been held next year.
The cancellation has been called a “huge loss for Wellington” by dance troupe Real Hot Bitches and a “stink buzz” by Fat Freddy’s Drop.”

Possibly the only good thing to come out of this mess is a new phrase for me : stink buzz. I like it. Very… feeling.

7 - 06 - 10

Who is paying for the statue? Hopefully it isn’t the ratepayer because if you asked me to prioritise the things that I’d like to spend $350k on, a statue of a jumping bloke wouldn’t rank in my top 1000.

Barry Thomas
15 - 06 - 10

Silly silly silly… Chris Morley-Hall did not start the carnival. It wasn’t its 10th anniversary last year. The Carnival was started by Martin Wilson some 20 years ago he ran many more than Monsieur Hall. I ran two in the nineties. The current issue here is that it actually costs – or has at its disposal around 1.5 million dollars. The WCC’s support then lack of support is just bantering around the fringes of substantial corporate income. The carnival is on – it is ours… a people’s carnival see you there.

John Key
16 - 06 - 10

For a start Maximus, I’m a huge Wellington Carnival fan, amazing event, many fond memories…But has New Zealand been recognised globally for this carnival? Is rugby not our iconic sport? We are known as one of the best rugby nations in the world. Wouldn’t it be prudent to prioritize our resources towards this epic event where the worlds eye would be upon us. Just because you were perhaps the last picked in sports at high school, there is no need to be ignorant towards this huge event that will economically benefit our country. This is no doubt that these incredible individuals have dedicated their lives to represent us and will unite New Zealand. Vote J-dawg.

Eye of the Fish | A wide-angle view of architecture, urban design and life in Wellington
17 - 06 - 10

[…] and one last thing: there’s a comment on a previous post of ours, that says it comes from John Key. Have we really cracked open the cabinet then? Read on… […]

17 - 06 - 10

John Key – goodness, is that really you? How did you know that I was always the last one picked at sports in high school (except for swimming, where of course I excelled…) – I guess you had the SIS check me out. The J-dawg bit makes me wonder – you don’t come across as quite that ‘urban’.

But: have at you Sir – I’ll take thee on. “Is rugby not our iconic sport?” Yes, yes, quite, but I’ll have you know that we have no truck with that word iconic here. Much over-worked phrase. And besides, we’re all on about soccer at the moment.

Yes indeed, the entire world, if they have heard of us, know us as the country that is long, green, uninhabited, and where they play rugby with sheep. The truth is more like that we all live in 3 cities, the river is polluted due to all the bloody cows straining their udders out to make cheese and dodgy milk products (literally, working their teats off), the south island is empty apart from a handful of Australian and Japanese snowboarders, we’ve eaten all the sheep, and yes, we play rugby, endlessly.

Wouldn’t it be nice, if instead of reinforcing their stereotypes about the rugby (sorry Mike, but it’s true), that we are known for having a damn good Latin dancing party as well? All hail Martin Wilson then, according to Barry. See you there indeed.