Festival a success, despite challenges

Dunedin Arts Festival director Charlie Unwin with the 2022 festival programme. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Dunedin Arts Festival director Charlie Unwin with the 2022 festival programme. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
That's a wrap: the 2022 Dunedin Arts Festival has come to an end after almost two weeks of bringing an air of magic to the city.

The biennial festival ran for a second time in two years due to Covid-19 postponing the 2020 event, Dunedin Arts Festival director Charlie Unwin said.

"It was a strange time to be putting on a festival in this Covid environment . . . despite that we had some really strong turnouts to many shows," Mr Unwin said.

Festival highlights included the Otepoti Hip-Hop Hustle, which saw patrons "boogeying" along to the four elements of the culture: dance, DJing, rap andgraffiti.

Other feature performances included The Strangest of Angels, a new New Zealand opera about Janet Frame, and the gravity-defying showcase The Air Between Us by dancers Chloe Loftus and Rodney Bell, which saw Mr Bell — a wheelchair user — take to the air above the grounds of First Church.

Halls and auditoriums around the city filled with music, with shows by an array of performers including Don McGlashan, The Harmonic Resonators, The Nukes, Shayne Carter and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Louis Baker.

Even the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra brought classical music to the ears of babes in Beethoven to Baby.

The visual arts were were represented in shows at galleries across the city, including Ian Scott’s exhibition at Milford Galleries and Dunedin-based artist Nic Dempster’s bold collection of work, Urban Planning, at Gallery De Novo.

Mr Unwin said the whole Knox Church programme was a highlight — "every night seemed to get better than the previous night".

He said the festival team had been lucky Covid-19 restrictions had eased early on, so international artists were able to take part.

Mr Unwin said the event as a whole was a success.

"It was very well-received; it was a festival with a good diversity of audience," he said.

Despite the good news, rising inflation and the increased cost of fuel, transport and travel had affected the festival.

"Hopefully those challenges won’t be around in 2024.

"Some of the challenges we’ve had in this year’s festival are unique to the times," he said.

For those who missed out, the Dunedin Arts Festival returns in 2024.