Festival boasts acts for all the family

Invercargill City Councillor Rebecca Amundsen.
Invercargill City Councillor Rebecca Amundsen.

For the next 100 days southlandtimes.co.nz will follow newly elected Invercargill City Councillor Rebecca Amundsen.

She's not an unfamiliar face to people  who live in Glengarry, or those who voted for her. She's a mother, a landlord, a project leader and now a city councillor.

But this isn't just our project; it's yours too. Get involved by posting comments, asking questions and answering polls each week as we follow Rebecca's first days in office.

Each week Rebecca will also write about her council musings.

May happens to be one of my favourite times of the year in Invercargill. I love it because it is the time of the year when the Southland Festival of the Arts is on.

Every festival I take each of my three boys (husband and two sons) to one show each. This means I get to go to at least three shows without feeling like I have abandoned my family. But it also means that my family gets to experience the amazing sometimes strange world of the arts.

Like many people growing up, I didn't get much exposure to the arts but I feel very lucky that every year I can make up for it by attending numerous shows.

The opening event for the festival was Fiona Pears, an incredible violinist whose skills and connection to the audience made for a great night's entertainment. I have also attended the Laughing Samoans, who I have to say were probably the best comedy act I have ever seen.

This weekend has been bulging with arts experiences. I took my husband to Mel Parsons and The Bitches Box, my oldest son to Hotel and my youngest son to Paper Sky. All three show were different, interesting and thought-provoking.

I am also involved with helping to organise the Dan Davin Literary Foundation events as part of the Arts Festival. This year we are hosting a varied programme which started last week with a Story Stones event at the library and ends on May 17 with a Pecha Kucha event at Repertory House.

Now maybe you are wondering what a Pecha Kucha is? Well, it is Japanese for 'chit chat'. At a Pecha Kucha event you have range of speakers who talk about subjects which they are passionate about. For their presentation they have 20 slides on a power point and each slide appears for 20 seconds. They speak to the slide, and when their slides are finished then so is their talk.

Our Pecha Kucha event will feature an interesting array of local presenters focused on the arts. William Hodges Fellow Sam Mitchell will talk about how she paints in reverse on perspex. Jade Gillies will reflects on the journey of Invers Theatre's play, 'Too Far From Heaven'. Catherine Taylor will tell the audience about her road to becoming a successful author of erotic fiction and folk music group Into the East will talk about their first year in the music business.

Our other presenters include Steve Woller, film maker; Lindah Lepou, Pacific Couture designer; Megan Burns, Librarian; Hamesh Wyatt, Poetry reviewer; Majella Cullinane, Robbie Burns Fellow and Sarah McCarthy, journalist and amateur cook book expert.

Of course, now that I am a city councillor May is also the time of year when we get to listen to the submissions on the annual plan. There have been just over 300 submissions this year, but very few of those submitters wish to speak to their submission. I have mixed feelings about this.

I am glad that 300 people made the effort to put pen to paper, but I would love it if more people took this step. I was surprised during the Local Approved Products Policy (Psychoactive substances) about how many people were concerned that if they didn't do their submission right that it wouldn't be accepted. I would like to tell people that this is not true. All submissions will be accepted.

Submissions do need to have your name and contact details on them. And with the annual plan your submission should address things that are included in it. Anyway, I would be interested to know why people do and don't submit on things in the annual plan. And what could be done to encourage you to participate in this process?

Feel free to send me a message through my Facebook page, by email or give me a text or ring on my cell number (I know some people don't like ringing cell phones but I prefer people to ring or text me on my cell as I am not always home and as much as I love my three boys, they are terrible secretaries!!). I will also be doing a Have a Seat session at the Invercargill City Library this month - Friday, May 9, 1pm to 2pm - and I would love to chat. And I will be doing one at the Museum on  May 20, 1 to 3pm.

In the mean time, happy Southland Festival of the Arts people! It is on until 24 May and you should be able to find the brochure in cafes, reception areas and also councils, libraries etc all round town. Still lots of exceptional events to go. Enjoy!

(Live Matches)