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Montana WOW Awards Show moves to Wellington

Montana WOW Awards Show moves to Wellington

Kerry Prendergast, Mayor of Wellington and Gabrielle Hervey, Chief Executive of the World of WearableArt Limited today announced that the Montana World of WearableArt Awards is to move to Wellington in 2005.

WOW is an internationally acclaimed award-winning event where art is taken off the wall and worn on the moving body. It is lavish, unique and theatrical. The show is a two hour-long feast of movement, sound, light and choreography.

The move follows research commissioned by the company, which showed that for the event to expand and develop creatively and commercially it needed to move.

Gabrielle Hervey said today: “We are very much looking forward to working with the Wellington City Council as a strategic marketing partner to take the Montana WOW Awards to its next step.

“We will be working with the Wellington City Council, Montana Wines and other major sponsors such as Tourism New Zealand to stage the Awards Show at the Queens Wharf Events Centre in 2005.”

Ms Hervey said the venue and marketing support the Council was offering, the larger population of Wellington, the sponsorship opportunities and the technical and artistic support available in the Creative Capital will greatly enhance and develop the event.

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast said: “The move is fantastic news for Wellington. The Council has been very proactive in building a supportive environment for arts and culture, and giving substance to our vision of being the ‘Creative Capital’. WOW coming to Wellington is a manifestation of the fact that the hard work is paying off. We are delighted and honoured to be the home of the annual Montana WOW Awards.”

WOW will continue to be headquartered in Nelson with administration, pre-selection judging and the museum all continuing to operate out of that city. WOW has signed a 5-year contract with the Wellington City Council to hold the event in the capital with the Council offering the event significant venue and marketing support, and a commitment from the event development fund. The events investment has been made based on the proven benefits that WOW will deliver. Further details of the contract are confidential to the two parties. WOW is a privately owned company.

Ms Hervey said WOW Directors had for some time wanted to expand the show and put it onto a more sound commercial footing. In 2003, WOW commissioned McDermott Miller, Wellington-based strategic planners and economists to undertake an analysis of the business and following that report; they conducted a feasibility study into moving WOW to a major metropolitan market. The study found WOW should move to a major city to achieve long-term sustainability and to grow both commercially and creatively.

“McDermott Miller evaluated various options and found Wellington offered the most compatible creative climate and strategic alignment for developing the show. The Wellington City Council has warmly embraced the concept of working with WOW to expand the Awards.

“The Wellington City Council actively promotes culture and the arts and acknowledges the enormous contribution events such as WOW make to the local economy. Wellington’s infrastructure, including a better venue, an international airport, greater transport and accommodation options will also provide opportunities for the event to grow in a way not possible in a provincial area,” Ms Hervey said.

WOW creator Suzie Moncrieff said today she had long wanted to expand the show and try new creative approaches, but the budget just wasn’t enough. “We have discussed moving for more than a decade, and although it has been an emotional decision, it is time for WOW to leave home and take on a new challenge.”

The 2004 awards show in September will be held at Nelson’s Trafalgar Centre as usual, with the event staged in Wellington at the Queens Wharf Events Centre from 2005, the venue of the sparkling Lord of the Rings premiere party.

Kerry Prendergast said: “We welcome WOW to Wellington knowing that this is just the first step for this event on its journey to become an international event and we will work with WOW to achieve this vision. We are conscious of the enormous role the people of Nelson have taken in nurturing WOW to the exceptional and, dynamic event that it is today. They can be very proud of growing the show to such an extent that this move was inevitable to ensure WOW reaches its even greater potential.”

Copy As Of 4.00pm 21.6.04

This paper has been written to provide information to interested people and organisations about the World of WearableArt™ (WOW)’s decision to shift the annual Montana WOW Awards Show from Nelson to Wellington.

Why is WOW® going? For more than a decade WOW has wanted to make the show more profitable so it could improve the event and perhaps take it overseas. Since it started, the show has broken even or made only a small profit. It costs over $1 million to stage the awards each year and without sponsorship, the show would run at a considerable loss. Managers believe the show is probably as large as it can get in Nelson (seven nights/17,500 people in 2004). If it were to retain its unique creativity and be commercially successful in an increasingly competitive market, WOW® had to look for new partners and working arrangements. In addition, as WOW® has grown, so too have expectations for increasingly spectacular shows and it has become very difficult to deliver new initiatives on tight budgets and in a limited venue like the Trafalgar Centre. In 2003 WOW® commissioned consultants to review the business. They recommended moving to a larger centre to grow and improve. Moving in no way reflects on the tremendous talent and support Nelson people have given to WOW® over the years.

What is happening? The headquarters of WOW and the museum will remain where they are, the prejudging will continue to occur in Nelson and all staff will remain in Nelson, however the Show will be staged in Wellington. After 16 years in Nelson, the annual Montana World of WearableArt™ (WOW®) Awards needs to grow and develop. Despite its enormous success it hasn’t made money and to cover the increasing costs in a relatively small regional centre was becoming increasingly difficult. To continue and, more importantly, to grow, WOW had to move. Research was undertaken by both staff and consultants to identify the best place to stage the WOW event.

Wellington was identified as the preferred option and negotiations began. WOW has accepted an attractive offer to move the 2005 Montana WOW® Awards Show from Nelson to Wellington to work with new partners and to grow and expand the event. This is an exciting move for WOW and an opportunity to grow the awards into an even better show. It is just a first step to achieving our vision of taking WOW to the world.

WOW’s directors and staff wholeheartedly appreciate the tremendous support and contribution from the Nelson community over the past 16 years. Directors trust people will recognise that after many years in essentially the same format, it is time for the event to mature and move to a larger city.

Why Wellington? Wellington stood out because of its supportive council, established arts climate, excellent venues and sound infrastructure. Wellington is a vibrant and exciting community and is becoming internationally recognised as New Zealand’s creative capital. The city is very proactive and positive towards the arts and acknowledges the contribution the arts make to the local economy. The Wellington City Council offered a five-year contract of exceptional marketing and venue support, and a commitment from their events development fund to bring WOW to the capital.

We felt Wellington was a good “fit” with Nelson and a good successor to take Nelson’s WOW creation to the next level. With Wellington’s backing WOW® believes it will be able to stage an even more innovative and enthralling show in the Queen’s Wharf Events Centre. It is envisaged there will be a seven or eight night season in the first year. While WOW® also looked at Auckland and Christchurch, it found Wellington offered the most compatible creative climate for developing the show. The shift will allow WOW® to forge stronger working relationships with other major groups such as the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Opera New Zealand and the NZSO. While incorporating such groups into the Nelson show last year added a new dimension, it also meant major accommodation issues and increased costs. It is hoped the shift to Wellington can act as the platform to one day launch WOW® on to the world stage – and showcase New Zealand’s creativity internationally.

How will you stage the show in Wellington without all your local help and support? WOW® greatly appreciates the input of Nelson people into the shows. It is important to note that as the show has matured, it has relied less and less on unpaid labour. While this still contributes hugely to the show’s success, about 30 percent of the cast and crew are paid, while non professional amateur performers and models receive benefits such as show tickets, petrol vouchers, CV certificates and valuable professional training. Our loyal and part time contractors who have worked on Nelson shows for years will be offered work in Wellington. WOW® will work with national performing arts and dance organisations to source dancers and models and if there are other vacancies WOW® will advertise for paid or unpaid talent as it has done in the past. WOW’s five full-time staff will retain their jobs in Nelson where the show will continue to be organised and pre judged. WOW’s art and costume departments will remain in Nelson at the World of WearableArt & Collectable Cars Museum.

Thank you Nelson! WOW® directors, staff and management wish to sincerely thank and acknowledge the support of Nelson people and Nelson sponsors. WOW® is grateful to all participants but trusts people will recognise that after 16 years here it is time to change. We need to grow the show and we believe it’s time to explore the opportunities offered by a larger centre. Many far-sighted people in Nelson have seen this as a natural development that has been coming for some time. Nelson has created a stunning event which will grow and develop with the assistance of a larger partner. Nelson will always be promoted as the birthplace of WOW®.

The Journey of WOW® The WOW® concept is about taking art off the wall and putting it onto the human body. The shows incorporate every element of theatre from performance, dance, music, lights and humour to showcase creations from all over the world. The event was born in Nelson in 1987 and continues to receive widespread international media and critical acclaim. It is considered by Tourism New Zealand to be a cultural icon of this country and is an event of which Nelson can always be justly proud.

1987 WOW® concept of “take art off the walls and out of static display to adorn the moving body in wildly wonderful ways” is created by Nelson sculptor, Suzie Moncrieff. The first show is held in a rain soaked marquee near Wakefield, in front of an audience of 250 people 1990 The New Zealand Wearable Art Awards (as it was then known) move to Nelson’s largest venue – the Trafalgar Centre, with a capacity of 2,500 staged over two nights 1996,1997, 1999 WOW® stages mini-shows in Singapore 1997 WOW® stages mini-shows in Thailand 1999 WOW® Awards take the prestigious “Supreme New Zealand Tourism Award” 2000 WOW® mini-show in Australia for Australian Fashion Week.

2001 New Zealand Wearable Art re-brands to World of WearableArt™ (WOW)® and extends from 3 to 4 night performance season 2001 World of WearableArt & Collectable Car Museum opens in Nelson, WOW® stages mini-show in Dubai 2002 The National Business Review votes WOW® Limited as one of the most creative companies in New Zealand 2003 WOW® extends season from 4 to 6 nights over two weekends. There are now 400 people involved in staging the show, a collective audience of 15,000, four Judges and 300 entries 2003 WOW® commissions strategic consultants McDermott Miller to conduct an Economic Impact Assessment for the annual awards show. Results showed that total new spending directly arising from the event was $6.5 million in the Nelson/Tasman region 2003 WOW® selected as a business to showcase InZone – a touring educational and motivational tool aimed at inspiring students to aspire and achieve their dreams 2003 WOW® partners with Rocquest Productions and develops WOWQUEST™, a national school competition to encourage young designers 2003 WOW® performs at Parliament for Asia 2000 Foundation, Te Papa for the world premier of Lord of the Rings – Return of the King and the official prize-giving of the Louis Vuitton Cup 2004 WOW® extends season from 6 to 7 nights taking the collective audience to 17,500. 2004 WOW® images feature on NZ Post stamp issue. WOW receives and accepts the recommendation to move its annual Awards Showfor its long term sustainability and growth. 2004 WOW® announces it has accepted an offer from the Wellington City Council to protect and grow the business on a more sound commercial footing. 2005 WOW makes its first step towards the international stage.

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