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Wellington’s Capital C Concerts closes in wake of Covid restriction extension

Prominent New Zealand concert promoter Phil Sprey has closed down his Capital C Concerts business after the country’s government extended Covid-19 restrictions.

Capital C Concerts has worked with the likes of Elton John and Bon Jovi and packed huge stadiums over the last 30 years, but Sprey said the impact of further restrictions means the business is no longer viable. So-called ‘red light’ restrictions have been implemented for another 10 days, meaning indoor crowds are limited to just 200 people.

The next review of the traffic light settings will be on Thursday, April 14, but after two years of cancellations and postponements, Wellington-based industry veteran Sprey has had enough.

“Nobody’s giving clear, long-term answers – and on that basis you can’t do international deals,” Sprey said in a post on the company’s website. “For domestically based promoters it’s becoming nigh on impossible at the moment because you can’t write a contract.

The New Zealand administration announced last month that it was extending the Events Transition Support Payment scheme until January 2023. That scheme offers a 90% subsidy of unrecoverable costs to events with more than 5,000 people cancelled due to restrictions, however Sprey cannot benefit as he has not been able to book international acts due to the pandemic.

He said: “As I’m getting a little older in years, we’re just dancing around with fresh air at the moment. We haven’t had an artist in over two years, so I thought, let’s finally pull the plug.

“As a company we have entertained the population of NZ many times over. Bringing a range of international artist to the country and presenting them nationwide to small venues and equally to the biggest stadiums. We have also proudly supported upcoming local artists and given millions of dollars to domestic charities whom we have linked to each major concert.

“Instead of passing my business onto my eldest son, I had to make him redundant, unemployed and now can’t even leave him anything more than a memory. Like others in the arts and entertainment industries we are considered by this government as expendable.”