News | 5 February 2021
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WOW gets city underwrite

Planning for this year’s World of WearableArt event in Wellington is continuing apace following formal backing from the city.

People in WOW outfits on the Dixon Street rainbow crossing.
WOW Up Close - image credit Johnny Hendrikus

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster says the City Council has agreed unanimously to a partial underwrite of the event, due to be held from 30 September to 17 October.


“We’re right behind WOW and we’re all looking forward to having this signature event back after last year’s Covid disruption. Underwriting has been requested and given purely to cover any risk in the event of a Government announced Covid lockdown. Without an underwriting agreement, the WOW board would have been imprudent to proceed and it is likely we would lose the event. That cannot happen” he says.


“WOW contributes up to $28 million to the city’s economy – it is an absolutely key event that especially benefits our hospitality, retail, accommodation and service sectors. I also know there’s a lot of pent-up excitement from people around the country who want to experience WOW – we all want this to happen.” This is a council standing firmly behind our business, arts and cultural sectors.


Wellington City Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio leader, Councillor Nicola Young, says this year’s WOW is shaping to be a great success – "It’s unlikely the financial underwrite will be called on but it’s support the Council can give to provide certainty for everyone involved with the event.”


WOW Chief Executive David Tingey says “We are delighted to shore up this support and thank WCC and WellingtonNZ for working through this with us in their capacity as a strategic partner. We can now confidently continue with our planning and investment in the 2021 WOW Awards Show which have been underway since mid-2020.


“Preliminary indications regarding entries to the 2021 WOW Awards Competition are looking very positive. We are confident that our year off and, given the global environment, we will see the some of the most inspiring works of wearable art that have ever adorned a WOW stage,” says Mr Tingey.

Background facts and figures

  • World of WearableArt is an internationally recognised design competition that attracts entries from more than 40 countries each year and contributes an estimated $27.9 million to the Wellington economy each year.
  • The WOW awards show season has built, developed and maintained a tourism season for Wellington which is now spread over three weeks annually. It is the most significant major event that Wellington hosts, having been held in the city annually since 2005.
  • In 2019 WOW celebrated 15 years in Wellington over which time it has attracted a cumulative total audience of 702,775 including some 492,000 visitors from out of Wellington. In 2019 alone the event attracted 40,948 out of region visitors to Wellington, this included people who extended their trip specifically to attend WOW.