Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: ‘Devastating decision’ made to cancel World of Wearable Arts

This year’s World of Wearable Art Awards Show has been cancelled, with organisers calling it a “devastating decision”.

At the end of last month the call was made to postpone the show due to the current Covid-19 Delta outbreak.

Since then World of Wearable Arts (WOW) has been trying to secure new dates, but it has proved too difficult to reschedule an event of such scale.

In an email to ticket holders today WOW chief executive David Tingey and founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff said in the end they needed to face reality.

“The risks were just too high. So, despite the tireless efforts of all involved, it is with heavy hearts that today we confirm that we have had to make the devastating decision to cancel the 2021 WOW Awards Show season.”

They said this year’s show was designed to “blow away” all the cobwebs from 2020 and celebrate anew.

The event is worth nearly $28 million to the local economy and is considered an economic highlight for the city’s retail and hospitality sector which, for some, eclipses the busy Christmas trading period.

This year’s show was a sell-out with more than 55,000 tickets sold. A third of these were from Auckland.

The decision to cancel has been made in close consultation with Wellington City Council and the region’s economic development agency, Wellington NZ.

“Together we agreed that this decision to cancel would place WOW in the strongest position possible to ensure its success and sustainability for next year and into the future”, Tingey and Moncrieff said.

Earlier this year the city council agreed to underwrite WOW.

The deal was designed to give WOW the confidence to embark on selling tickets and spending money to put the show together. It was to support the event against the risk of any further Covid-19 lockdowns.

Wellington City Council has not yet received a claim under that agreement, a spokesperson said.

But Tingey said this afternoon the organisation would be calling on support from the council.

“That’s part of us calling it [the cancellation] in a timely way to make sure that we contain the costs.”

WOW is New Zealand’s largest theatrical production, attracting about 60,000 people annually.

It is also a sought after competition for international designers working at the cutting edge of fashion, art, design and costume, alongside students and first-time entrants.

Since 2005, when WOW first opened in Wellington, almost 6800 people have worked on the show attracting a total audience of more than 700,000.

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