Wellington Scoop

Doubling up at WREDA

by Lindsay Shelton
The Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency has created a new job – it wants to employ someone who can persuade more events to use the city’s venues. The new recruit will be titled Major Events Attraction Manager. But the responsibilities are strangely similar to jobs that already exist in two departments of WREDA.

The advertisement for the new job says it involves

… a central role in major events prospecting, bidding and attraction, and the associated investment in Major Events. You will take ownership of identifying national and international events that can be targeted and secured for Wellington, or developing events that can drive out of region visitation and increase our region’s profile.

…You will be skilled and confident in contributing to the growth of our range and spread of events, and to ensure that our events sector in the city and region remains strong… We are looking for a high-performing individual, able to look for opportunities and be strong at building relationships to ensure our position within the Major Events sector is strong. You will be excellent with both understanding the needs of our audiences and key partners, and securing exceptional major events.

The new employee will join WREDA’s Venues and Project Development section, where he or she will soon discover that there’s already a team working (not well enough?) to secure events for the venues. (“The venues sales team work across selling space in the six venues that WREDA manages. The team work with the organisers and promoters of conventions, events, performances and exhibitions”).

And there are even more people already doing the job that’s been advertised. WREDA has a events and partnerships team which is (also) responsible for leading

the attraction of new major, business and performance events, and the continued success of events across the Wellington region.

This team

promotes, funds and supports major events in Wellington …The team work across funding support, marketing and promotion, logistical and venue support, feasibility studies and event bids, planning, management and risk management, coordination and facilitation of major events.

There’s also a “Performance Event Attraction” section, Guess what it does. Yes, it is

responsible for sourcing, contracting, ticketing and delivering live performances and exhibitions. Their focus is on developing a strong calendar of events, and working with hirers to drive local and out of town audience development.

How many people do you need to book events into the MFC and the other city-owned venues? There’s evidently a level of duplication of activity at WREDA, even before the new job (plus two associated positions) is filled. Or perhaps they’re planning job-sharing, with part-time hours?

The cost of booking the city’s venues made headlines five years ago, in the days of the council-controlled trading organisation Positively Wellington Venues, where the person in charge of booking the venues was being paid $260,000 a year. This salary was more than twice as much as the council was paying when the work was done in-house.

The Venues organisation, with 71 staff, was dependent on an annual subsidy from the council, which paid it an annual fee of $5.4million for managing the six venues. In the year before Venues was established, when the council was running the venues in house, the equivalent management fee was $1.1million.

WREDA’s accounts are not easily accessible. But it would be interesting to discover the budget for the various teams who are all chasing events for the city’s venues, and compare this with the $5.4million subsidy of five years ago, and the previous $1.1million.

Note. Six venues, or four? The Town Hall remains closed. The St James is also closed. Leaving WREDA’s staff to compete with each other to fill the Michael Fowler Centre, the TSB Arena, Shed 6, and the Opera House. The council also owns the Embassy, but the cinemas are leased to a private operator, who doesn’t need any help from WREDA. And the WREDA website hopefully mentions the Movie Museum and Convention Centre, but they would not be advised to take bookings for this invisible building.


  1. Michael Gibson, 16. April 2018, 16:01

    What a shocker!
    This is terrific reporting which is very much appreciated – thank you!

  2. Traveller, 16. April 2018, 16:48

    Three teams doing the same job – and they’re hiring more people? Does anyone have the final say about what bookings are confirmed? Is the new person going to control all three teams? (Not according to the job description, which doesn’t mention them.)

  3. TrevorH, 17. April 2018, 8:19

    Yes, more waste at WREDA. It seems they are unaccountable and can do what they like.

  4. Tony Jansen, 18. April 2018, 11:40

    LOL I did this in house for the WCC thirty years ago…..what an incredible waste of money.

  5. Theatregoer, 24. April 2018, 16:22

    The venues cannot support that kind of executive deadwood. Promoters don’t bring shows here because of the high cost of the venues. If you want to use a venue you are compelled
    . to use their nominated caterer.
    . use their nominated ticketing system even if you are issuing tickets only to your members.
    . use their nominated lighting and technical supplier. They dumped local company Grouse Lighting and gave the contract to an Auckland based company (which happens to be Australian owned)

    There is a wealth of shows across the Tasman which could be brought here. It’s not hard to find them.