Gold Guitar entries soar

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The New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards have drawn a bumper 693 entries this year.

Awards publicity officer Shona Hewlett said this year’s number was well up on last year’s total of 604.

The record number of entries was 766 entries in 2013, she said.

She believed this year’s number of entries was the second highest in the awards’ history, Ms Hewlett said.

She attributed the sharp rise in entrants to the newly increased prize package.

Awards organisers have boosted this year’s prize package to $15,000 in cash and prizes, five times more than in previous years.

Nearly half the entrants in this year’s awards were first-time competitors, she said.

“There’s a lot of new entries from the North Island – it is amazing,” Ms Hewlett said.

Organisers had received feedback that the new prize package was being greeted favourably by award entrants, Ms Hewlett said.

There were 35 entries in the new singer-songwriter section, she said.

“That’s fantastic for the first time we’ve offered that section,” Ms Hewlett said.

The winner of the singer-songwriter section would attend a songwriting seminar in Australia hosted at the Dag Sheep Station, she said.

There was also a big increase in the number of entrants in the senior sections, with entries rising from 179 last year to 213 this year, she said.

The junior section rose from 99 last year to 117 this year, Ms Hewlett said.

The 60-plus section also increased, rising from 39 last year to 61 this year, she said.

“So it’s good we are able to cater for and encourage people of all ages.”

Organising committee convener Philip Geary said the increase in entrants was exciting and he believed the increased prize package had had an impact.

New entrants in the awards usually comprised 20%-30% of total numbers, but this year that had increased, Mr Geary said.

Preparations for the awards were well advanced, Mr Geary said.

“Everything is just waiting for people to turn up now.”

This would be his 21st year as convener and he had been on the organising committee for 24 years, he said.