Festival Promoter Investigated Over Govt Funding Fiasco
An Auckland festival promoter who was given over NZ$100,000 of public money to stage a free event is being investigated for failing to pay artists.
Auckland /Tāmaki Makaurau Council gave Keegan Fepulea’I $115,000 from a new $7 million Local Activation Fund to reactivate the CBD through its economic and cultural agency, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited.
Fepulea’I, a promoter, DJ and editor of “Post Mag”, applied through his business Tāmaki Dance Revue for a music, food and dancing event called Vā Festival.
Vā was held in six bars on Karangahape Rd with 19 bands and DJs, and an additional $1,500 towards production from the Karangahape Rd Business Association.
Although it was held from June 23 to 25, a number of acts and venues have told local news outlets Stuff and The Spinoff that they have not been paid and have filed complaints.
One of these, singer-songwriter Warren Duncan, was to have been paid $1,500, and got $1,000 after he went public on Instagram.
“He just kept giving me excuses after excuses for months, Duncan told Stuff.
“I’m not sweating myself over $500, but it’s the principle for me. I just want accountability, I want him to be called out so he doesn’t operate again.
“This also serves as an example to people in our industry that they can’t do this.”
In an email to The Spinoff, Fepulea’i revealed he paid $42,000 to himself “for the six months” of work, and $34,127 plus GST on putting on Vā.
“I used the rest to cover the cashflow issues of the business,” he wrote.
Fepulea’i also said he is “working through recovering the funds” allegedly owed to him “for work,” and other funds which he said have been stolen.
Tātaki Auckland Unlimited arts, entertainment and events director Richard Clarke said the council had been assured all artists and contractors were paid.
He had not been able to contact Fepulea’I since.
The promoter explained via Instagram he had cashflow problems.
“In an effort to delay payment, expecting the cash flow issues to rectify themselves I lied, further delaying payment to artists and some suppliers.
“This was wrong. As a result, some payments were missed.”
An updated post substituted the word “lied” with “poorly miscommunicated”.
Fepulea’I said there were plans to pay performers $6,500, and would give up promoting events after that.