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Wellington chalks up another successful arts festival

The New Zealand Festival is being hailed as another success after it closed its three week season last week .

Festival Executive Director Sue Paterson said, “It’s been a wonderful Festival and I thank all the staff, crew, volunteers and audiences for making it happen. While final attendance numbers are still to be confirmed, current ticket sales show the Festival has issued over 114,000 tickets to audiences for over 300 performances. This is a slight increase on the 110,000 tickets issued in 2012. It’s a great result.”

Part of the success could be attributed to the Contact Season of Power Plant, one of the largest events in this year’s line-up, which saw over 22,000 people enjoy a night time adventure in the capital’s iconic Botanic Garden.

Festival Executive Chair Kerry Prendergast said, “Wellington is one of the best festival cities in the world.  Part of what makes the New Zealand Festival so special is both its environment and the way that Wellingtonians and visitors embrace it. Seeing the Botanic Garden transformed in such an extraordinary way and witnessing so many thousands enjoying this space was a personal highlight. Our new partner Contact Energy made this event possible and we must acknowledge our many Partners, Funders, Patrons and Friends for their support.”

In her first year as Artistic Director at the New Zealand Festival, following a six year directorship of the Perth Festival, Shelagh Magadza has championed community participation. The Festival got off to a spectacular start with The Big Bang, partnered by TV3, which saw 200 children from South Auckland, Christchurch and the Wellington region join 300 members of the Wellington Community Choirs with Strike Percussion and Kora in a percussion extravaganza that wowed audiences in the capital’s Civic Square.

“The Festival is about creating extraordinary experiences – for both audiences and performers. We began the Festival with a massive free event that put the incredible talent of both young people and local performers in our community in the spotlight. For everyone involved this will be an unforgettable night and the legacy of this project, which was spearheaded by Strike Percussion, will last for many years to come”, said Shelagh Magadza,

The international programme continues to be at the core of the Festival with 19 countries represented in the 2014 programme. The BBC’s Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular featuring the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra pulled new audiences to the Festival in an opening weekend line-up that included acclaimed seasons of the Weta Digital Season of Needles and Opium and the Wellington International Airport Season of Deca Dance.

As part of the Festival Writers Week Elizabeth Gilbert, Jung Chang and Marcus Chown headed a line-up of international talent, as well as local writers including our own Man Booker Prize-winner Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries. 

There were six world premieres of New Zealand works, from sell-out concert commemorating the WWI centenary in Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, Requiem for the Fallen, to a new New Zealand work Age, by dance maker Ross McCormack which closed the Festival tonight.

Some 2014 Festival statistics:

  • As at Saturday 15 March 114,000 Festival tickets had been issued (110,000 in 2012)
  • Over 22,000 tickets were issued to the popular Contact Season of Power Plant
  • 5000 people enjoyed The Big Bang in Civic Square on the opening night of the Festival
  • The festival featured 1200 artists from 19 countries (NZ, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, UK, and United States)
  • The Creative New Zealand’s international visitors’ programme enabled a number of overseas agencies to attend the festival including the British Council, Edinburgh Fringe, Seoul Performing Arts, Singapore Festival and others.  
  • New initiatives in 2014 included putting Tix for Twenty online – which resulted in 3,196 tickets sold increasing the accessibility of the event. Other accessibility initiatives included signed performances for Deaf audiences.
  • Over 24 days, the Festival staged more than 300 performances, and six world premieres of new works
  • Over 50 Wellington businesses featured deals and events on the Festival’s free Social Side application on its website

John Daly-Peoples attended the New Zealand Festival thanks to The New Zealand Festival and Quality Hotels

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