Dancers performing for eight hours on a block of ice hanging over the harbour is just the tip of the iceberg for the Nelson Arts Festival this year.
The 11-day festival will see more than 200 artists participate in the event, which is scheduled to take place October 20 to 30.
Popular acts such as Night Vision will be returning, alongside new international acts such as Thaw.
During Thaw, dancers from Australian physical theatre company Legs On The Wall will balance for hours on a 2.7 tonne block of ice hanging above Port Nelson.
Meant as a commentary on the current climate crisis, audiences are invited to watch the dancers perform over the eight hours as the ice melts.
Nelson Arts Festival executive and artistic director Lydia Zanetti (they/them) said it was exciting to finally bring in international work to the festival.
Thaw had been performed at the Sydney Festival in January, and was said to be an “exceptional and life changing” piece of work.
Other acts included an exhibition at Refinery Artspace called Ko Te Ākau would show the work of arts laureate Charles Koroneho (Ngāpuhi, Te Mahurehure, Te Parawhau, Ngāti Hau).
Instead of the usual Mask Parade and Carnivale, mask displays will be shown at local businesses, and a series of workshops by Community Artworks would be offered as part of the Masks About Town experience.
Celebrated visual artist Andrea Lockwood’s Piano Burning would end the festival at a secret location on October 30.
Thaw and Piano Burning were two performances that could not be seen anywhere else in the country.
Zanetti was excited to see how the community would respond to this year’s festival.
The executive and artistic director said they were proud of the festival’s programme, and thought people were going to love it.
The breadth of the programme was large and spread across the entire of Whakatū, which was “really exciting.”
For the first time, the festival would be using a Pay What You Can (PWYC) ticketing system that would allow people to choose from a range of ticket prices.
The PWYC system was a trial, and was based upon oversea’s festivals successful practices.
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 with the arts.
This was a holistic approach to ticketing, Zanetti said. They believed Nelson Arts Festival was the first major festival in New Zealand to use this system.
Another new development was the Festival’s first residency programme. Starting from this year, a local artist would be given space and resources to develop their ideas and work.
The residency programme was about finding new ways to invest in artists, Zanetti said.
While the artist in residence had not been chosen yet, a call for expressions of interest was soon to be announced.
The festival had been badly affected by the pandemic over the past two years. In 2020 the majority of shows and the Mask parade was cancelled, and in 2021 organisers cancelled most events due to uncertainty around the levels.
Nelson Arts Festival will be held from October 20 to 30 this year. Tickets can be purchased here.