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Event: Nelson Arts Festival – Oct 2022

Our longest running annual arts festival is back on the boards and out in the community with a celebratory programme that harnesses the talents of creatives and artists from Whakatū, Aotearoa and around the world.
Boasting 58 unique events and the participation of over 200 artists the 28th Nelson Arts Festival programme offers 11 days of must-see arts events from 20 – 30 October. Everything from exhibitions, performances, workshops, whispers in the streets, parties, words, discussions, rituals, residencies, and unforgettable experiences will take over halls, theatres, galleries, heritage sites, Kōhanga Reo, a boxing gym and digital platforms across Whakatū.
Audiences will be astounded by the unmissable experiences that can be found in the most unexpected of places. Globally renowned Australian physical theatre company Legs On The Wall have not performed in Aotearoa for two plus decades. They make their triumphant return to deliver the Aotearoa premiere of their death-defying new work – THAW. Whipping up a frenzy at its inaugural outing at the Sydney Festival in January, THAW sees dancers struggling for balance on 2.7 tonnes of ice as it dangles high above the harbour. Over 8 hours, as the ice melts, audiences will consider their role in taking steps towards tangible climate action.
From ice to fire, a celebration through the act of transforming an upright piano through burning will close the festival season with internationally celebrated visual artist Andrea Lockwood’s Piano Burning
Night Vision opens the festival on Thursday 20 October. An evening for the whole whānau, the event encourages audiences to wander at their leisure through art galleries and interactive public performances. The Refinery ArtSpace hosts the work of revered Māori dance artist and arts laureate Charles Koroneho (Ngāpuhi, Te Mahurehure, Te Parawhau, Ngāti Hau), over the duration of the whole festival with Ko Te Ākau – a site-specific installation of lighting, sound, video and performance that references the collaborative works of Ralph Hotere and Bill Culbert.
For audiences unsure of what to attend this festival, help is on the way with an immersive performance from Audrey Baldwin (Art Chemist), who is at the ready to write a creative prescription drawing from the programme.
The 2022 programme is bursting with the highest quality arts events. From Don McGlashan, Rita Angus, Keri Hulme, Kim Hill, Hinemoa Elder to famous comedians Pax Assadi and Eli Matthewson, Pasifika superstars Fine Fatale, revered actors such as Ana Chaya Scotney, jazz concerts from dawn to dusk, opportunities to walk the aisle with Anna Dean + Bek Coogan’s Self-Love Wedding Ceremony, contemporary music from alt-folk to dancehall to funk including virtuoso acts Erny Belle, HALFQUEEN, VÏKÆ, Wallace and more, theatre for the whole whānau from Thom MoncktonPukapuka Talks literary programme including Whiti Hereaka, Rebecca K Reilly, Noelle McCarthy, Catherine Chidgey, Renée, Wendyl Nissen and Michael Bennett, world-class dance with Ross McCormack and New Zealand Dance Company, not to mention the wide-ranging Tamariki and Rangatahi programme – there’s no shortage of experiences to choose from.
Community-driven events are vital to the festival kaupapa and in 2022 there are some bold new initiatives. These include the new poetry event Victory Poetry Slam at the Victory Boxing Gym, collaborations with Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, a residency programme for local artists, a rangatahi-led mural with Nerys Ngaruhe on Broads Field and an accessibility programme which offers greater access for disabled and Deaf communities.

In addition, the festival is offering a Pay What You Can (PWYC) ticketing model across all events – a first for a major arts festival in Aotearoa. There will be a recommended ticket price, as well as a range of other prices for people for whom price is a barrier and those wanting to support others to engage with the festival. This will open the door a little wider, allowing more people to experience and support the arts, artists and to connect as a community.
The festival has been reflecting on the disruption of the past two years and the ongoing fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. What the festival has learnt from these experiences – especially the risks around focused, mass gatherings and the potential disappointment associated with cancelling community-led events – has shaped their approach this year. With this very much in mind, the festival has changed the traditional Mask Carnivale in 2022 to a celebratory installation of the mask legacy in Whakatū. The central city will come alive with exhibitions of masks old and new, as well as public crafting workshops.
“Nelson Arts Festival hopes to respond to this moment, with all its joys and sorrows, challenges and opportunities. The arts help us celebrate as a community, be empathetic to other people’s experiences and connect across distances. In such uncertain times, we look to create a festival which can help us focus on the most important things in life – and be ok sitting with inevitable change. Piki mai, kake mai! Join us for 11 days of unmissable arts experiences for the people of Whakatū, Te Tauihu and Aotearoa,” says Executive and Artistic Director, Lydia Zanetti (they/them/ia).
The 28th annual Nelson Arts Festival’s core funder is Nelson City Council. The trialling of the Pay What You Can ticketing model is funded by The Cultural Sector Innovation Fund from Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture and Heritage, and supported by NBS Nelson Building Society.

Note – copy for this article supplied by Elephant Publicity.

Nelson Arts Festival
20 – 30 October 2022
Visit the festival website


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