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Nelson Arts Festival – New Director Appointed

The Nelson Festivals Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of Padma Naidu to the role of Festival Director for the 2020 Nelson Arts Festival.

“Padma, who is currently the Arts Education Manager of the Corban Estate Arts Centre in West Auckland, will bring her rich experience in arts management and community engagement to the Festival”, says the Trust’s Chair Brent Thawley.

She is also a qualified architect, and this combined with her experience in the arts, is a great fit for the Trust’s strategy to make the festival more visible in the city and other community spaces and explore new ideas for existing and new locations. The recent very successfulFour Lanes Festival demonstrates a strong community appetite for using our city spaces in innovative ways.

“Padma also has a proven track record in working with local communities which aligns with our strategic goal of being inclusive of all communities across Te Tau Ihu.

“She is no stranger to Nelson. She has been a frequent visitor for work and pleasure and is part of the team presenting Cultural Conversations at our upcoming festival in October. The event will provide a designated space hosted by communities from different cultural backgrounds to encourage informal conversations around art and culture,” Brent Thawley says.

Padma says she was drawn to the role based on the experiences she has had working here and enjoying the people and environment.

“I had the wonderful opportunity to spend 2018 in the region based in Ruby Bay when I worked with the current festival team to assist with Mask Parade and The Flag Project. Both these projects were at the heart of working with schools and different community groups.

“This experience gave me a deep insight into living in Nelson and not just visiting. When I left a year ago, I said to myself I would be back.

“Back for the wonderful environment, the climate, the generosity of people that I got to know as well as the creativity that exists.

“The role is exciting as it is not only an expansion of my projects with the festival to date but also draws upon my diverse career path to put together a vision and direction for future festivals.

“A vision that is based on presenting high quality arts to Te Tau Ihu generated from within the region as well as outside.

“There will also be a strong focus on works created by and with the community as a way to engage a wider group in the arts,” Padma says.

Padma replaces Charlie Unwin who is moving to Dunedin at the conclusion of this year’s festival to be its Festival Director.

“Charlie has presented eight, soon to be nine, high quality festivals for Nelson. We will be sorry to say goodbye to Charlie but are very pleased to have found someone of Padma’s calibre to replace him,” says Brent Thawley.

Padma will be in Nelson to observe this year’s festival and receive a handover from Charlie before starting in January 2020.


The full programme can be downloaded from but if you’d like one posted to you, email us your postal address and we’ll pop one in the mail for you.


Office address: 87 Atawhai Drive, Nelson 7010
Postal address: PO Box 597, Nelson 7040

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