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After a six-month delay due to Covid-19 and more than a year of planning, the 20-day festival is set to begin tomorrow.
Festival director Charlie Unwin has mixed emotions about that.
"You spend a lot of time with a programme just being yours — when you launch and you give it over to the public, it is quite nerve-racking," he said.
But there was also a sense of relief.
"You feel so much better about it and the general feedback about the programme has been really good, which has been heartening."
However, he was not expecting to breathe a final sigh of relief for another couple of months, he said.
"Once the festival has finished and the wrap-up has finished — then I will relax."
Mr Unwin said this year’s festival would be a unique experience.
Almost every show in the programme had a connection to Dunedin, either through the story it told or through the artist telling it.
It was one of the few benefits of Covid-19 restrictions, he said.
"We have had to look more insular and think ‘what do we have here that is world-class?’
"We do have some amazing performers and amazing shows."
Among the shows beginning the first week is Tami Neilson’s The F Word, the award-winning Wild Dogs Under My Skirt and Wairua, which is described as a bicultural multimedia performance.
Mr Unwin said the Dunedin Fringe Festival, Readers and Writers Festival and Wild Dunedin — which are on around this time of the year — had all embraced the Dunedin Arts Festival 2021 sharing the time slot this year.
He hoped the people of Dunedin would embrace it, too.
"It is the people of Dunedin’s festival, so please get out there and enjoy it — there is something for everybody."