10 Feb 2022

Napier's Art Deco Festival to go ahead, but scaled back

6:26 pm on 10 February 2022

Despite the many event cancellations across the motu due to Omicron, Napier's Art Deco Festival is still going ahead next week, but it will be hugely scaled back.

The beautiful art deco town of Napier, New Zealand - as summer night approaches.

Napier Art Deco Photo: 123RF

Organisers have had to cancel more than 200 of the events and businesses hope it will not be cancelled entirely with a day's notice like last year.

The festival celebrates Hawke's Bay's revitalisation after the catastrophic earthquake 91 years ago.

It is held among the glitz and glamour of Napier's 1930s buildings, which line the city's main streets.

Last year, it was canned the night before events were due to begin, because of a Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland.

This left many local businesses and event organisers frustrated.

But Art Deco Trust chair Barbara Arnott said the show would go on this year, even if on a smaller scale.

"It is still going ahead - and the reason why we can put on more than 50 events across the city is because the Art Deco team were all over this - they were prepared for a red setting - they knew what they could do within the rules and what they couldn't do," she said.

But the red traffic light meant it still would not be the same as normal.

"Anything obviously over 100 people has to be cancelled, and of course, very sadly, what I believe is the core of the festival, all our public events have to be cancelled which is the car display up and down Emerson St, where we usually have over 250 vintage cars."

She said the festival would not be cancelled at the last minute again, unless the Government unexpectedly put in more restrictions.

"Well unless the government changes the rules again from this red setting, no," she said in response to whether it could still be cancelled.

"We know what we can comply with within the rules and that's what the Art Deco Trust is doing."

Napier Art Deco

Napier Art Deco Photo: Napier Art Deco Trust

She was aware a Covid outbreak could hit the festival, but said Kiwis were already taking risks.

"It could become a location of interest, and I suppose that's the risk that every New Zealander is taking. However, people now can go into movie theatres, they can go into different venues, they can go into restaurants."

Everyone who attends the events will need to be vaccinated.

The news that it was still going ahead was a welcome relief to Napier businesses, who rely on the cash the festival brings - even if it will not be as busy as most years.

Sally Holyer from gift shop Adore Collection said it could only be a "good thing".

"We obviously are very disappointed that red traffic lights means not the whole event but as long as people keep coming - yes please, we're very very pleased," she said.

"Overall our sales on the Art Deco weekend [last year] were okay, as some people still did travel, but we were approximately 50 per cent down on the previous year when the full festival was in place."

Rob Rowe from Dobsons Kodak Express understood it had to be scaled back, but was still a bit disappointed.

"Well I can see that they have to with the traffic light system, it's good that it's going at all. But on the other hand when it comes to Covid, really I think a lot of people have got to stop being nervous nellies about it - get out and about, you know what I mean?"

But he said he would not feel happy if the whole event was cancelled at the 11th hour again.

"Oh, abysmal, that's just bad planning, it'd be stupidity beyond belief."

The festival is due to begin on Wednesday 16 February and will go through to Sunday 20 February.

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