Nelson Arts Fest wrap up

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Nelsonians have been entertained with theatre, music, poetry slams, writers’ talks, hip hop, public art events and a festive parade and carnivale for the past 13 days and nights, during the 21st Nelson Arts Festival.

The festival wrapped up yesterday, with 33 sold out performances from a total of 54 ticketed events.

Ticket sales are still being counted but figures are tracking at around the same as last year with nearly 10,000 tickets allocated.

Shows in the ‘Out the Gate’ Schools Programme sold out within weeks of going on sale and the nine local performances in the free Pic’s Granary Gigs attracted full houses.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese says she continues to be delighted at the high level of support the Arts Festival receives from the public.

“The Nelson Arts Festival is a considerable Council investment that sets our city apart as it’s the only annual regional arts festival in the country. The support it continues to receive every year is testament to a region that embraces arts, creativity and has a strong sense of community.”

Mayor Reese says there was something in the line-up for everyone, with a number of free events including the much-loved Masked Parade and Carnivale, local performances at the Pic’s Granary Gigs, as well as public art with The Billboard Project.

“There were a huge number of people working tirelessly behind the scenes that helped make the 2015 Festival such a success, from the Festival team here at Council and the volunteer ushers, to the technical crew, and everyone who took part in the Masked Parade.

“Of course, a very big thank-you to the community for their ongoing support and participation and the generous sponsorship from local businesses which is essential for running the event.”

Festival team leader Axel de Maupeou says the move to new and less-conventional venues was embraced by Festival goers with the majority of Nelson Musical Theatre, the Free House Yurt and the Boathouse shows sold-out and the other shows in new venues such as River Kitchen also having very high attendances.

He says shows that were particularly well received by the public were headline act one-man show Leo, hip hop showcase Out of the Box and Trinity Roots with their Irish friends in Motu : Oileáin.

“A strong and devoted team has worked relentlessly to put on the Arts Festival for Nelsonians over the last 13 days. There has been great praise from a whole range of people in our community about the shows they’ve seen or the free events they’ve participated in. Satisfaction from sponsors and the public has reinforced the level of maturity achieved by the Festival,” Maupeou says.

In particular, he thanked Jacquetta Bell, who produced her last Page and Black Readers & Writers Festival after 13 years at the helm.

“Jacquetta came up with the idea for a Readers and Writers component to the Festival more than a decade ago, and has single-handedly grown the programme to become one of the country’s best-loved writers’ series,” he says.

Bell says all 14 sessions of the Page & Blackmore Readers and Writers drew good audiences, who are both positive and loyal to this section of the Festival.

“From a train ride for children and teddies to Gerard Hindmarsh’s book on Kahawai complete with freshly caught fish from Golden Bay, through to Patricia Grace, Michele A’Court and Stephanie Johnson – there was something for all book fans,” she says.

Particular highlights were the two Thinking Brunches – one on inequality and the other on the future of news.

“Our Auckland guest speakers were very impressed with the high interest in public debate in Nelson – as was a group of nine women who flew in just to attend Readers and Writers,” she says.