The annual Mask Parade is usually the highlight of Nelson’s event calendar. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Mask Parade cancelled amid Covid fears

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The annual Mask Parade and Carnivale has been cancelled after organisers deemed it was too difficult to operate in the uncertainty of changing Covid-19 levels.

The event, which usually bookends the Nelson Arts Festival, draws thousands into the streets of central Nelson and is usually a favourite of the events calendar.

The Nelson Festivals Trust says that more “significant financial investment” was needed to start things happening this coming week in order to ensure the successful delivery of the event.

“With so much uncertainty about ongoing government restrictions, the trust determined it would be too risky to spend public money on an event that might not happen,” trust chair Brent Thawley says.

In July the trust requested and was approved $100,000 of Nelson City Council funding to run the Mask Parade.

At the time, councillors and the mayor said it was needed, despite some feeling uncomfortable with the amount of money being spent.

Brent says this decision was primarily based on the fact mass outdoor public events are not possible in Level 2 and that uncertainty could remain for quite some time.

“The trust’s decision is based on its commitment to be fiscally responsible with public funds and to guarantee participants’ safety.”

However, the trust voted to continue planning for the delivery of the rest of this year’s already-reduced Nelson Arts Festival programme which is part of Ngā Toi Huatau – The Seasonal Arts.

This was put in place in the wake of Covid-19 lockdown which forced the trust to reassess the viabilty of running a full festival.

They applied for less money from council, while also asking Creative NZ for $75,000 to help deliver the programme.

Brent says the continued planning for the reduced festival is based on the fact that most of the organisation required for this has already taken place and it was only days away from revealing the programme.

The programme was released yesterday at www.nelsonartsfestival.nz with tickets on sale both on the website and on Eventfinda.

However, Brent says if the region does not return to Level 1 on September 6, this decision will be reviewed.