Gathering faces receivership

Nelson Mail, 17 May 2002

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The financially troubled Gathering is weeks away from receivership unless it gets urgent help, says organiser Murray Kingi.

The New Year dance party in Golden Bay was facing "the big crunch", with debts now totalling over $400,000 and no office space to work from, he said.

Mr Kingi said he had signed a personal guarantee with the event's bank and would be bankrupted if the Gathering "dropped out".

People owed money from the last two Gatherings could still be paid if the event was paid money it was owed, he said.

"A few large creditors need to pull their heads in and stop trying to weasel out of the money they owe us. Unless something drastic happens, it could be the end of the Gathering." The Gathering needed financial help, infrastructure and advice from private sources, and local body help would be welcomed, Mr Kingi said.

This year's Gathering was affected by the success of the rival Vision party in Golden Bay, but more so by the new Alpine Unity party near Christchurch, which Mr Kingi estimated took away up to 4000 potential "Gatherers".

Another 1000 people at this year's Gathering would have been enough to keep the event going, he said.

Mr Kingi has previously threatened to take the Gathering to the North Island. He said he was now not in a position to so, even though it would make financial sense.

The Gathering was asked to leave its office at the Artery earlier this year because it no longer met its artistic requirements, Mr Kingi said.

"It's kind of like Nelson doesn't really want the Gathering to stay here."

The Gathering had assets built up over six years of dance parties - props, lighting, sound equipment and construction materials, he said. The Artery community arts centre closed last week, which meant a good portion of the Gathering's core business had dried up.

"Income from lighting hire and sound hire have all gone - nobody is renting it," Mr Kingi said.

He said he would move to Wellington to work because all avenues for work in Nelson had dried up.

He had met with the National Bank every month and it had been supportive up to now, he said. "They are understanding but they are a commercial enterprise. And we need to be a commercial enterprise to survive."

He blamed the situation on bad luck. "This year we went all out to produce the best and cheapest we could. We cut the budget from $1.44 million to $760,000 and nobody noticed any difference. We showed this year we can achieve a profitable party as long as the numbers are there."

"I am gutted. It would be an absolute tragedy if the Gathering was to go out, and I don't think people will miss it until it's gone."

Dave Williams, Nelson Mail, 17 May 2002

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