Artistic project to lift spirits comes to end

Real-life ear nose and throat surgeon Layla Hehir (right) punches ‘‘Covid’’ with assistance from...
Real-life ear nose and throat surgeon Layla Hehir (right) punches ‘‘Covid’’ with assistance from Cindy Diver during a Random Acts of Art event. PHOTO: STAR FILES
The Random Acts of Art project, which has lifted spirits across the Dunedin community for the past 11 months, is coming to an end.

The brainchild of Wow! Productions board member and TheatreWorks director Cindy Diver, RAA was a direct and active response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Launched in Macandrew Bay during the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 and 3 lockdown period in 2020, the RAA project created artistic fun to lift spirits, break the routine, and encourage people to be kind and hopeful.

As restrictions eased, it expanded out into the city, with actors taking part in guerilla acts of art, such as inflatable dinosaur antics in the city centre, pavement chalking, hopeful message badges, serenades by singer Sophie Morris, whale watching ‘‘therapy’’ and ‘‘punch Covid’’ activities in the Meridian Mall, Darth Vader’s Parenting Day and much more.

An inflatable dinosaur holds an encouraging sign  during a Random Acts of Art event. PHOTO: STAR...
An inflatable dinosaur holds an encouraging sign during a Random Acts of Art event. PHOTO: STAR FILES
A major highlight was the creation of theatre production Resilience — a lockdown theatre response, staged through the window of Fringe HQ during the Dunedin Fringe Festival.

Diver said the RAA project had been a major undertaking, which had drawn many performers together, and had raised smiles for the city’s residents.

‘‘It has been an amazing project to be part of — so full of ideas,’’ she said.

‘‘We have done 33 events over the past 11 months, which has been quite incredible.’’

RAA events had also aimed to provide paid work in difficult times for local actors, and had received funding from the DCC’s Professional Theatre Fund, Otago Community Trust, with about $10,000 also contributed by Theatreworks.

‘‘We are very pleased with how much we have achieved with those resources.’’

Looking back, the RAA project had been a creative challenge and exploration of figuring out the events that would have the most positive impact, Diver said.

‘‘We also had to figure out how to succinctly tell these stories that could be grasped with a glance — little moments that broke the routine and sparked joy.’’

A couple of final events are planned for the RAA project, including actors wearing Covid-19 vaccine and QR poster suits going shopping, and a mass inflatable dinosaur herd onslaught in the central city.

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