Wellington’s arts sector says new parking rules will stop people coming to shows

Wellington’s performing arts sector says extending paid parking with two-hour time limits until 10pm at the weekend will prevent people from attending shows.

As part of Wellington City Council’s long term plan operating hours for metered parking will be extended from the current time of 8pm on Fridays and 6pm on Saturdays.

This will come into effect from 1 July 2021.

A letter in opposition has been delivered to the council this afternoon signed by 16 stakeholders including New Zealand Opera, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Circa Theatre, and the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

They said extending two-hour time limits on evening parking in the central city would not give audiences enough time to attend an event.

“Many event organisers and producers work to increase access and remove barriers to participation in the arts, and this decision will considerably undermine their efforts if some audiences can’t park in Wellington for at least the duration of the event they are attending.”

Most performances staged in Wellington exceed two hours from start to finish, they said.

Mayor Andy Foster has been approached for comment. The council’s long term plan is scheduled to be adopted on Wednesday.

The time limit would impact those for whom public transport is not feasible, people with mobility issues, older people, those not well served by existing bus routes, and out of towners, the letter said.

It would also affect performers and crew members who used private cars for transporting specialised instruments and technical equipment, the group said.

They noted there was a shortage of car parks close to Wellington’s main entertainment venues, with both Reading and James Smith buildings out of action.

The letter has also been signed by the hospitality sector including Hospitality New Zealand, Restaurant Association NZ, and Wellington Culinary Events Trust.

They argued the length of time an event attendee may spend in the city could easily extend to three or four hours if they dine or have a drink in town on either side of a performance, which parking time limits would hinder.

“The close proximity of Wellington’s venues to vibrant cafes, bars and restaurants is a major draw for people to come into the city to spend their leisure dollar, and audiences attending events build a whole evening around the event they are attending.”

The letter urged the council to at least remove the two-hour time limit for parking after 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

They said the events and hospitality sectors have had a tough 18 months.

“We strongly assert that the two-hour time limit extension to 10pm on Friday and Saturday evenings, is going to be yet another reason why people who might be considering coming into town for an event and/ or an associated hospitality experience will decide to stay away.”

Between them, the stakeholders stage over 1,850 events annually attracting a combined live audience of 450,000.

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