Government puts $900K into taking WOW global

The World of Wearable Arts event will get a $900,000 boost from the government's Major Events Fund to push it onto the global stage, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has announced.

The grant will help fund three international tours of the show by 2016, to be staged at museums in Asia, Europe and North America.

Founded in Nelson and moved to Wellington, WOW has become a staple of the Wellington cultural year, attracting large numbers of predominantly affluent women from around New Zealand to the event and attracting major corporate sponsorship.

"The WOW spectacle offers a world-class experience that enhances New Zealand's creative image, offers a different kind of experience for tourists and expands the NZ brand," said Joyce, in an announcement that foreshadows tomorrow's launch of a new "New Zealand Story" branding campaign.

The New Zealand Story is intended to showcase New Zealand's creative and intellectual talent and move the country beyond the "100% Pure" campaign, which mainly targets tourists and has become a lightning rod for environmental critics of the current government's policies favouring extractive industries.

An international education programme, including opportunities for international design students to participate in the event and a focus on attracting international students to study in New Zealand will be part of the initiative.

"It is important the WOW brand is championed by New Zealand and develops as part of our nation's intellectual property," Joyce says. "We need to stake our claim to the concept internationally and dissuade others from fulfilling any perceived void in the international market place.

"As New Zealanders, we are a pioneering, open and collaborative nation. This plays to our character, our strengths and the way we are viewed internationally."

Joyce said Wellington City Council estimates the event generates $15 million of new spending in Wellington annually and attracted an audience of 47,000 people this year.