Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Santa is gone

Forget the elections (in New Zealand or the upcoming ones in the USA). Forget wars and rumours of wars. Forget poverty and inequality. Today it was announced that Auckland will not have Santa this year.

The Santa, displayed for the past 15 years on Whitcoulls at the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets in Auckland’s CBD, is privately funded through the business promotion group, Heart of the City (usually abbreviated, somewhat inappropriately, as HotC). They’ve announced that due to lack of funding, Santa will not appear this year.

HotC is in financial difficulties for a variety of reasons, and has said they can’t afford the $180,000 it cost to put the Santa and reindeer up and take them back down. I do think that cost sounds a little over the top, but I have to take their word for it that that’s the actual cost. Since ratepayers/taxpayers won’t cover the costs (nor should they), if the business promotion group doesn’t have the money to display Santa, well, I guess he’ll just have to stay in his workshop at the North Pole.

Still, this doesn’t sound very imaginative for a business group, does it? Could they not come up with a way for ordinary people to donate to “Save Santa”? People use online fundraising for all sorts of causes, big and small, so was it inconceivable that they just might raise the needed funds?

I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but if HotC is really so incapable of creative thinking, so inept at looking for solutions rather than slashing budgets and a beloved icon—honestly, the only truly visible thing they do—well, maybe they’re really not very good at what they do. If so, they could save the businesses who fund them heaps by winding up the organisation altogether.

Oh well, what can you do? Santa is gone thanks to the brick-brains in HotC, and that’s that. Maybe we’ll just have to fight poverty or something instead of railing about the loss of Santa.

Update 23 October: Santa is saved! According to the New Zealand Herald, some private businesses have come forward to assure that Santa is back this year. That’s great, but I have to wonder: Why the hell didn’t HotC think of that? They could have issued a public appeal and—gasp!—fundraised for it instead of just cutting their budget and walking away. "We are overwhelmed and delighted by the public interest and support for the iconic Santa. The generosity of these businesses in guaranteeing that Santa and his reindeer ride again is a fantastic outcome for Aucklanders and Heart of the City,” HotC said in a media release. Yeah, but no thanks to them.

I know that HotC is still dealing with the repercussions from firing their CEO earlier this month amid allegations of tax evasion and “issuing false invoices”, but that doesn’t excuse the complete lack of vision from HotC.

I took the photo at the top of this post for a post in November, 2009.

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