A performance artwork featuring a block of ice hanging from a crane over the harbor will be part of this year’s Nelson Arts Festival.
Dancers performing for eight hours on a block of ice hanging over the harbor are just the tip of the iceberg for this year’s Nelson Arts Festival.
More than 200 artists will take part in the 11-day festival, which is scheduled to take place from October 20th to 30th.
In addition to new international acts such as Thaw, popular acts such as Night Vision are returning.
During thaw, Dancers from Australian physical theater group Legs On The Wall spend hours balancing on a 2.7-ton block of ice hanging over Port Nelson.
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As a commentary on the current climate crisis, the audience is invited to watch the dancers melt the ice over the eight hours.
Nelson Arts Festival executive and artistic director Lydia Zanetti (they/they) said it was exciting to finally bring international work to the festival.
Thaw was performed at the Sydney Festival in January and was considered an “extraordinary and life-changing” work.
Other acts included an exhibition at Refinery Artspace called Ko TeĀkau would feature the artwork of laureate Charles Koroneho (Ngāpuhi, Te Mahurehure, Te Parawhau, Ngāti Hau).
Instead of the usual masked parade and carnival, mask exhibitions will be held at local businesses and a series of workshops by Community Artworks will be offered as part of the Masks About Town experience.
Acclaimed visual artist Andrea Lockwood‘s burn piano would end the festival on October 30th in a secret location.
thawing and Piano Burning were two performances not seen anywhere else in the country.
Zanetti was curious how the community would react to this year’s festival.
The general manager and artistic director said they were proud of the festival’s program and thought people would love it.
The range of the program is wide and spread across Whakatū, which is “really exciting”.
For the first time, the festival would use a Pay What You Can (PWYC) ticketing system, which would allow people to choose from a range of ticket prices.
The PWYC system was an experiment and was based on the successful practices of overseas festivals.
The new ticketing practice would help break down financial barriers and “open the door a little wider” for people in the Nelson community to engage in the arts.
This is a holistic approach to ticketing, Zanetti said. They believed that the Nelson Arts Festival was the first major festival in New Zealand to use this system.
Another innovation was the festival’s first residency programme. Starting this year, a local artist will be given space and resources to develop their ideas and work.
The residency program was about finding new ways to invest in artists, Zanetti said.
While the Artist in Residence has not yet been selected, a call for expressions of interest should be announced soon.
The festival has been severely affected by the pandemic over the past two years. In 2020 most shows and the masked parade were canceled and in 2021 organizers canceled most events due to uncertainty about levels.
The Nelson Arts Festival will take place from October 20th to 30th this year. Tickets can be bought here.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that the Masquerade Parade would return in October. Modified: 9:52 am 5 Aug.