New Year’s Celebration at North Base. Photo / Ron Burgin
By Gill Bonnett from RNZ
International music and comedy shows are being approved and rejected for border exemptions in “favorite games”, according to a promoter.
British comedian Russell Howard will tour New Zealand, and other acts allowed through managed isolation this summer include drag queen RuPaul and musicians on Northern Bass in Mangawhai and the Bay Dreams festival.
The Association of Promoters vice president, Gray Bartlett, said despite being a New Zealand Immigration-approved promoter, he was not given an explanation as to why acts like Music of Cream and American speaker Michael Franzese were rejected.
Nothing explains what the approval criteria are or who makes the decisions.
“What I really don’t like is when governments start with favoritism and vote who they like, or get people to choose who they like to come in. That’s just not true. And it can be done easily in our business because they can formulate an excuse. why someone might be important to have here.
“But the truth is, it doesn’t stand the sniff test, I’m afraid. And we can prove it with some of our applications.”
One project he’s been on will employ about 100 local workers if their applications are approved, but he says he doesn’t want to take the risk of talking about it.
“I don’t want to influence the life of this Oscar winner and Grammy winner who wants to come here in a month or so to make a big boost for New Zealand as a country, but it’s all a game of favorites, who you know in government and government. this particular is very bad at this particular task. “
Bartlett, who is the patron of the Variety Artists Club in New Zealand and has previously brought the likes of Michael Jackson and Luciano Pavarotti to New Zealand, said the millions of dollars that would go towards accommodation, services and hiring local crews were also being ignored. as another benefit.
“One of them in particular, Michael Franzese, he is one of the best US speakers – the major sports teams in New Zealand have been chasing him for several years, he gives a lot of his money back to youth in crisis, and that is part of our application. He does all things for the major US football team and basketball team speaking at the start of their season, he is a well-known keynote speaker in America.
“This benefits the health of New Zealanders, especially young people in one case, and in our other [would be] using artists, crew, performances, accommodation, everything New Zealand. “
He estimates 70 percent of promoters can fold in a year because they struggle with Covid-19, the cost of rescheduling shows, and the process of getting international talent into the country.
A New Zealand Immigration spokesman said all requests for border exemptions for individuals in the arts and entertainment industries were assessed against the same ‘other critical worker’ criteria as other requests for a worker, as set out in the immigration instructions.
The criteria are based on whether the person’s skills or experience can be acquired in New Zealand or whether the worker plays an important time role in a particular area, the spokesman said.
“INZ can confirm that since 18 June 2020, 66 requests have been received regarding the arts and entertainment industry, which includes all festival artists and artists, but excluding film and television. Of these, 39 requests have been approved, 23 have been rejected, and four are still under assessment.
“Regarding the request for Music of Cream, based on the information provided by INZ, it is not satisfied with the criteria of performers who meet the criteria, especially in terms of demonstrating their time-critical role for jobs that will bring significant benefits to the nation. or regional economies because of the limited information provided to demonstrate what the economic benefits are.
“INZ has been in contact with Mr. Bartlett to advise him on his options following the August reduction, but INZ has not received any new information or a request for reconsideration. If Mr. Bartlett asks for reconsideration or makes a new request, INZ will consider this.”