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Clark: Address at Launch of WOMAD

Wednesday 10 November 2004

Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister - Address at Launch of WOMAD

Theatrette, Beehive Wellington

5.30 pm

Wednesday 10 November 2004

Welcome everyone to Parliament for the launch of the festival programme for New Zealand’s fourth WOMAD, to be held in New Plymouth next March.

First - a word of explanation about WOMAD: World of Music Arts and Dance. It began in the United Kingdom, 22 years ago, when Peter Gabriel had a vision of musicians from all over the world coming together on one stage. Since then, the festival has since been held in more than 20 countries around the world to a combined audience of millions.

What makes WOMAD unique as a music festival is that it isn’t about ‘name’ performers. It is a coming-together of music, cultures, and language. It sees music as a global language. WOMAD is a celebration of multi-culturalism very relevant to New Zealand today.

WOMAD was first held in New Zealand in Auckland, in 1997 at Western Springs and in 1999 at the Aotea Square/The Edge. Both events were artistically successful, but struggled through lack of sponsorship support, and there was no concert in 2001.

Then, the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust made a bid for the New Zealand rights to the event.

The 2003 festival in New Plymouth was highly successful – artistically, organisationally and financially. Around 20,000 people attended over the three days – fifty per cent more than forecast - and one-third of them came from outside the region. An estimated 6260 people were attracted into the region specifically for the festival, including more than 700 visitors from overseas. It brought an estimated $2.5 million into the region.

As Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, I have travelled throughout New Zealand over the past five years, and I’m impressed by the diversity of talent and the energy coming through in our arts and culture. The sector is thriving as never before.

WOMAD itself is evidence of the economic spin-offs which ca come from the cultural sector. The festival exposes our talented and creative people in the performing arts and the visual arts and crafts to overseas visitors. And it is part of the process by which Taranaki is being branded as a vibrant, interesting, and creative centre to the rest of the country, and also to overseas visitors. WOMAD also builds on the attention drawn to Taranaki by the filming of ‘The Last Samurai’ in the region.

WOMAD 2005 opens in New Plymouth on March 11. The venue is Brooklands Park and the TSB Bowl, in central New Plymouth, one of the most beautiful outdoor venues in New Zealand and amongst the most special anywhere in the world.

The festival will be spectacular. It will have: five performance stages 375 performers, with half from overseas 60 performances over the festival’s three days workshops led by the performers a Kidzone (kids 12 & under, free admission) a food and retail village.

WOMAD 2005 will cost nearly $2 million to produce, with more than half of that figure fundraised from philanthropic trusts, local government, and the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust’s commercial partners.

Just as the music is about partnerships with performers coming together from around the world, the organisation of this event is very much a partnership, mixing government and local government, arts bodies, and private and corporate sponsors.

This festival involves the WOMAD organisation based in the UK, the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust, New Plymouth District and South Taranaki District Councils, Creative New Zealand, and a number of Taranaki and New Zealand companies working together, including Todd Energy and Shell.

It also involves partnerships throughout Taranaki - tourist attractions, local cafes and restaurants, retail outlets, hotels and accommodation – to produce an overall cultural visitor experience involving music, dance, food and international crafts, highlighted by Taranaki’s unique landscape and cultural offerings.

The programme for WOMAD 2005 has attracted exciting and talented musicians from New Zealand and around the world. We will take great pleasure in welcoming the musicians from offshore. It will be a marvellous event.

Roger King, event director for WOMAD 2005, will now outline the festival programme.

Thank you.

ENDS

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