The 24-day biennial New Zealand Festival in Wellington, which has unveiled its full programme for next year, may become an annual event.
"It's been a perennial question . . . whether we should go annual. A lot of the major festivals are," festival artistic director Shelagh Magadza said.
"But there are pros and cons to it, which I think we have really got to think through."
Magadza, previously artistic director for the annual Perth Festival, said one of several factors was that it was unusual for a city of Wellington's size to hold such a large arts festival.
New shows unveiled at a launch event in Wellington last night included a bizarre Russian adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a new play from Canadian Robert Lepage inspired by Miles Davis and Jean Cocteau, True Blood actor Denis O'Hare interpreting The Iliad, American jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux, and the first New Zealand appearances by Israel's Batsheva Dance Company and Japan's baroque choir Bach Collegium.
But the closure of Wellington Town Hall during the festival for earthquake strengthening has had an impact on where shows will be staged.
The Festival Club venue and bar, the European-style tent usually based on the waterfront, has been scrapped, and the James Cabaret will be used for some shows, including American indie acts Yo La Tengo and Neko Case.
Magadza said the decision would save the festival money, but that was not the main reason for the change.
"I needed a venue that could house a contemporary music programme, and that tent had a low seating capacity and the configuration of it wasn't going to work quite as well."
James Cabaret, in Hania St, could hold up to a third more people.
The festival's daytime talks, usually held in the tent, would be in the St James Theatre, which would also be used as a social hub.
Magadza said in the past it was felt that the tent was in competition with Wellington's bars. "[St James Theatre is] more central to the action. Where it was located before didn't lend itself as well to that.
"People can come during the day for cups of coffee and meet artists."
The festival will have about 300 performances, the same as in 2012, and the budget has increased by $500,000, but the number of tickets available will be about 100,000 - about 40,000 fewer than in 2012.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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