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by George Clark

A wave of event cancellations has hit South Canterbury since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Soundsplash festival Timaru promoter Mitch Lowe said it would not be returning this summer, but a sideshow could be possible.

About 2500 people attended the three-day festival in January, at which more than 40 New Zealand and international acts performed across three main stages.

Among several other cancellations in South Canterbury this year are the Mackenzie Highland A&P Show in Fairlie, the Caroline Bay Rock and Hop and the Maadi Cup rowing regatta at Lake Ruataniwha, all due to Covid-19.

Mr Lowe, who also organised summer music festival Bay Dreams, said the Covid-19 uncertainty meant organisers needed to tighten up which shows they delivered.

“We do hope to be back one day and, whilst we absolutely loved throwing our first major event in Timaru, there is a lot of uncertainty,” he said.

January’s festival at Caroline Bay had “such a vibe” and there was a lot of good feedback, he said.

“It was great to see the venue in full swing.

“We now know the site well and cannot wait to make improvements to it.

“It is always a learning curve for the first event but we are happy with the feedback and what we delivered.

“Getting international artists to Timaru is no easy feat.”

Mr Lowe praised the Timaru District Council for its support.

“We would like to thank everyone involved and, most of all, the community who embraced us.”

Arts On Tour New Zealand general manager Steve Thomas said while South Canterbury did not often feature in its schedule, the organisation was disappointed with its recent cancellations.

Three tours scheduled for April, May and June were cancelled but performers found innovative ways to entertain online.

International comedy magician Brendan Dooley performed in Twizel on March 4 and in Ashburton on March 13, but curtailed his tour after the Covid-19 Level 3 restrictions took effect on March 23.

Once the lockdown had been announced, duo Ara decided to livestream gigs from their home to each of the venues previously arranged.

Comedian Penny Ashton’s tour “Austen Found: The Undiscovered Musicals of Jane Austen”, scheduled for May, was cancelled.

However, Ashton added entries to the Arts On Tour New Zealand Facebook page before and during that time. The tour would have gone to Twizel and Geraldine.

Michael Hurst’s performance in Tom Scott’s semi-biographical play The Daylight Atheist toured the country, performing in Twizel and Fairlie in July.

Returning . . . Operatunity managing director and co-owner Susan Boland. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Operatunity managing director and co-owner Susan Boland said the concert and music tour for seniors had been due to perform in Timaru today but was cancelled because of Level 2 restrictions.

Operatunity usually came to Timaru eight times a year.

“We managed to do the first two but had to cancel the next two due to lockdown,” she said.

“We have two more schedules for this year, one in later October and early December, and hope we are still able to do both.”

Eight bookings had been confirmed for next year at Caroline Bay, she said.

Performing mainly for older audiences, Operatunity did not want to put the most vulnerable at risk.

“We love coming to Timaru. Audiences are warm, lovely and excited when we arrive.

“The priority is to deliver a safe, happy and healthy concert to our seniors.”