Nelson Arts Festival manager Axel de Maupeou at Burger Culture for this week's Beers, Burgers & Banter.

Beers, Burgers and Banter with Axel de Maupeou


Every three weeks the Nelson Weekly sits down with someone interesting at either Burger Culture or the Vic Brewbar.

This week we speak to Axel de Maupeou, who is heading up the Nelson Arts Festival team.

With a Burger Culture creation in hand, he talks about what Nelsonians can expect from a festival that punches above its weight.

The Nelson Arts Festival launches tomorrow. How are you feeling?

Exhausted. Excited. The invisible becomes visible, things that the team has been working on for months, if not a year, finally morphs into something. It’s been a secret kept with the team and it’s not onstage but the festival is such a spectacle. It has to be on stage for it to be gauged. All that excitement is delivered when the curtain raises.

Why do you think it’s important to have the arts festival and for people to support it?

The festival is very strong on the community. The show Maungatapu was created locally, the Granary Gigs are all local. We have music, theatre, dance, the masked parade and carnival. There is huge community involvement. But also, art is something for life. It has a big role in developing skills and helping social isolation. Everyone must get behind it as, very often, it is a remedy to so many social problems. To have a healthy society and community, arts needs to be an integral part of the mix and the festival does just that.

What would you say to the regular Nelsonian who hasn’t gone to an arts festival before. Why should they go?

We are creatures of habit but I like the SAS motto: Who dares wins. I think it’s critical to try new things especially if you are a parent. Bring your kids. We tend to share what we like with our children, but that’s limited. Let’s not limit what children might find joy and passion in. There are so many shows on for children. Bring them to something that you might not have been able to when you were growing up. It’s about becoming more aware of what is out in the world. This brings world-class performances to Nelson. It’s unique. Challenge yourself and show your children that you dared.

What do you look for to create a well-rounded festival?

To have a good mix of local, international, national, dance, music, comedy and theatre. It really is like an international chef putting a menu together – there is a link between everything. It’s not randomly done. There is almost a narrative that underlies putting all the pieces of the puzzle. You want things that are entertaining, things that are daring, but there has to be a balance. It’s opening up the community to new things. We are continuing to explore new ways to push the boundaries in order to reinvent it and develop tomorrow’s audiences.

Anything you are particularly looking forward to?

Otto and Astrid is just good fun, good musicianship. That Bloody Woman, it’s an example of how an audience can discover New Zealand history. Hudson and Halls, SJD and Julia Deans, Rutherford. There are so many wonderful shows to choose from. Nelson has one of the highest community participation in the country. It’s the best combination of national, international acts with local performances. You don’t get that at any other festival. I’m proud this team and the council supports that, because that’s the concept behind it. It’s about being inspired which is what the festival hopes to do for Nelson.