Mixed year for the arts

00:02, Dec 24 2012

This year was a mixed bag for the arts world in Wellington.

The glitz and glamour of Hollywood came to town for The Hobbit premiere and many international and local artists showed Wellingtonians what they were made of.

But 2012 also brought earthquake strengthening worries and funding issues for the arts world.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opened in cinemas last week. The world premiere was held in Wellington on November 28.

More than 50,000 people lined Courtenay Place to get a glimpse of the stars on the red carpet.

Wellington's film-arts scene was also on display in and around the event with sculptures from the movie around the city, a Hobbit-themed craft market in Waitangi Park and an exhibition at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery by Weta Workshop's Johnny Fraser-Allen, The Gloaming - Sculptural Portraits of the Faery World.


Other Wellington-made films hit the news this year. Horror-comedy Fresh Meat, filmed in Wellington last year, premiered at the Hawaii International Film Festival in October.

Science-fiction movie The Cure has already been lined up by cinemas in Spain, Germany, Russia and the Czech Republic, though it is unfinished.

Controversy followed a story on the Museum of Wellington City & Sea selling off a replica model of the Titanic and sending about 2000 photographs, glass plates, slides and negatives to the Voyager Maritime Museum in Auckland and Wellington City Archives.

Wellington's Maritime Friends, knowing how the museum built its collection over many decades, was disturbed by the museum's decision to dispense with so many nautical-related items.

In its 2012 to 2022 long-term plan, Wellington City's Council briefly toyed with reducing Te Papa's funding from $2.25 million per year to $1m, but public backlash soon forced that decision to be reversed.

New public art works went up around the city, including nine kina-shaped concrete structures installed at the Kumutoto Plaza on the waterfront and a 24-metre high mural in Lukes Lane off Manners St.

Wellington's hidden art was uncovered with the launch of the Secret Art Walk.

The self-guided tour from Parliament to the Museum Art Hotel reveals the gems hidden in the offices of various hotels and businesses in the central city.

The Lux-Mini Light Festival ran from September 1 till 9 at four locations along the waterfront, from the lagoon to Te Papa.

However, this year's event was simply a teaser for a much larger festival that will hopefully run for a month every two years starting next June or July.

Earthquake strengthening had an impact on the theatre scene.

Capital E was forced to move out of its premise in November after an engineering report showed its Civic Square base was less than 33 per cent of the new building standard.

It was closed for two weeks before moving to a temporary venue in the Railway Station Social Hall on Waterloo Quay.

A decision on when Capital E will return to Civic Square and the work to be done will be made soon. The

closure scuppered Bats Theatre's plans to use Capital E's Mackenzie Theatre while its Kent Tce premises underwent strengthening work.

Bats Theatre will now move to the former Big Kumara premises on the corner of Cuba St and Dixon St. Its first show in the new venue will open in February.

Wellington had some great gigs by well known artists, including Mumford and Sons, Fat Freddy's Drop, Ed Sheeran, The Black Keys, Reece Mastin, One Direction, Morrissey, Bon Iver, Death Cab for Cutie and The Bootleg Beatles.

Wellingtonians were also well represented at the Glastonbury Festival, with appearances by Bella Kalolo, who performed with a broken foot, Phoenix Foundation and Electric Wire Hustle.

Other popular events this year included The Flight of the Conchords' shows in June, the 60th anniversary production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, the Imperial Ice Stars' Nutcracker on Ice, New Zealand Opera's The Bartered Bride, English comedy show Potted Potter, Red Leap Theatre's new show Paper Sky, Sicilian artist Alessandro Bazan, and Te Papa's Unveiled: 200 years of wedding fashion and Kahu Ora: Living cloaks exhibitions.

The Wellingtonian