Serious stress for artistic success

Arts Festival Dunedin director Nicholas McBryde sweeps the floor of the Athenaeum basement...
Arts Festival Dunedin director Nicholas McBryde sweeps the floor of the Athenaeum basement yesterday during the pack out of the show The Wine Project. Photo: Peter McIntosh.
Arts Festival Dunedin this year will be remembered for having more standing ovations and more full houses than ever before, director Nicholas McBryde says.

The 120 festival shows performed over 10 days came to an end yesterday.

The greater number of sellouts was due to more shows being held in smaller venues.

It was too soon to tell if the not-for-profit festival would make a surplus this year, Mr McBryde said.

"I’m nervous but I’m very pleased artistically with how it has gone and my board and I have been watching very closely as the public has been sitting on its hands for the past 10 weeks."

People waiting until the last minute to buy tickets was frustrating.

When the cast and crew for the The Wine Project and Dirt & other Delicious Ingredients arrived on Tuesday he had to tell them the ticket sales were ‘‘rubbish’’, but, given time, nearly every performance sold out.

All four performances of The Devil’s Half-Acre sold out and people were turned away.

Because of people buying tickets at the last minute, it was too late to arrange another show for those who missed out.

"The demand was there for that but it was too late ... you can’t just throw a performance on."

Mr McBryde had conceded last-minute ticket buyers  were "something the festival has to live with".

"People come to the party but they come in their time, which doesn’t help my sleep patterns."

Despite the sleepless nights, he had been "accosted" by lots of people with praise for  the variety in the programme, including "sheer entertainment", ‘"challenging" performances and shows for children.

The "jury was still out" on whether shifting the festival to the school holidays was a success.

"If you look at Dirt and Caterpillars and the pantomime [Commander Claire and the Pirates of Provence], they were very well attended. We were catering for a new catchment and they came out and had a lovely time."

The festival having a comedy club at Playhouse Theatre for the first time had mixed success.

Most of Michele A’Court’s four shows sold out but tickets to Arthur Meek’s shows did not sell as well, possibly because people were tired of the coverage given to politicians such as Hilary Clinton.

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