Auckland Arts Festival/Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki (AAF) welcomes the government decision this morning that Tāmaki Makaurau would return to Covid Alert Level 1 at midday today (Friday 12 March).
It has been a rollercoaster of a fortnight, following the announcement that Auckland would enter a Covid Alert Level 3 lockdown at 6am on Sunday 28 February for seven days.
Due to open on Thursday 4 March, the first section of AAF 2021 was put on pause and the Festival team have worked around the clock to reschedule the majority of works planned for 4-12 March. A full and regularly updated list of show status updates is available here.
A return to Alert Level 1 today allows the Festival to go ahead with its planned schedule, including the much anticipated Che-Fu & The Kratez: Return of the Navigator (Saturday 13 March, 8pm), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial feat. APO (Saturday 13 March, 7pm) and its Community Day activities on Sunday. Taki Rua Productions’ Sing to Me, which had its Auckland premiere last night at Q Theatre according to Alert Level 2 protocols, continues its season with shows tonight (Friday 12 March, 7.30pm) and tomorrow (Saturday 13 March, 2.00pm and 7.30pm).
Due to the timing of the alert level announcement, all shows and events in The Civic Club for 12-14 March will go ahead with the audience seated in the auditorium stalls instead of onstage. Affected shows include Heavenly Bodies, which opens tonight (Friday 12 March, 8.30pm), Open Stage: Scenes from a Yellow Peril (Saturday 13 March, 1.30pm) and Gitbox Rebellion (Sunday 14 March, 4.00pm). Shows and events in The Civic Club from Tuesday 16 March will go ahead with onstage seating for audiences, as per The Club’s original design.
AAF opened yesterday morning (11 March) with a karakia and ceremony to unveil and bless the Festival’s new Mauri stone, attended by representatives of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Festival staff and AAF 2021 artists. The gathering observed the limits on crowd numbers and physical distancing requirements of Alert Level 2. Acts of Love launched with A Figure Exhales in the window of Smith & Caughey’s (Queen St side) mid-afternoon, which continues until Sunday.
Other shows and events that can now go ahead in their intended form include Love to say goodbye (Friday 12 and Saturday 13 March, 7pm), Siva Afi Festival (Friday 12 and Saturday 13 March, 7pm), Tigilau Ness and Friends at the Festival Garden, Aotea Square (Saturday 13 March, 6.30pm) and He Owha Matarua / Hauntology of Inheritance (Saturday 13 March and Sunday 14 March, 2.00pm). Author Pauline Smith and members of the Polynesian Panthers RAPP present an In-depth talk at Studio One, Toi Tū tonight (Friday 12 March, 6pm) in relation to AAF’s Polynesian Panthers 50th Anniversary programming.
The rescheduled events from the AAF 2021 talk series, Living with Uncertainty and Arts + Climate Innovation: Coexistence with our Natural World will now take place on Sunday 14 March at Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre. Cian Parker’s one-woman gem Sorry for your Loss plays at Warkworth Town Hall as part of our regional offering tomorrow evening (Saturday 13 March, 7pm).
The important visual art exhibitions The Dawn Raids – Educate to Liberate at Studio One; A Very Different World at Te Tuhi and Papatūnga; Edith and George: in our sea of islands at Corbans Estate Arts Centre; and The Thrum of the Tide at Te Uru had opened ahead of the Level 3 lockdown that began on 28 February.
John Miller and Elisapeta Heta’s Pouwātū: Active Presence was able to open on Tuesday 9 March according to Alert Level 2 protocols, and work began also on Tuesday 9 March on the Educate to Liberate Polynesian Panthers mural, on the corner of Karangahape Rd and Gundry St.
The 2021 Festival is the first of four with Shona McCullagh (MNZM) in the role of Artistic Director. Arts Foundation Laureate McCullagh founded and led The New Zealand Dance Company as Chief Executive/Artistic Director since its establishment in 2012, and joined AAF in March 2020.
“The whole Festival team is deeply relieved and truly energised, after an extremely tough fortnight, by the announcement that we can now press go on our preparations to return to Level 1 presentation of our beautiful artists. We have been frustrated by the delay in the announcement which has meant we don’t have time to realise our The Civic Club venue set-up as it was intended for this weekend, but we are so eager to share the aroha of our Festival with our patient and devoted audience. Kōkiri! Let’s go!” says McCullagh.
Ataahua Papa, AAF Kaihautū Māori joins in celebrating the alert level change stating, “Hurō! E harikoa ana mātou o Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki i te hekenga ki te pae tuatahi! Kāti, me haere tonu te ngahau! Yay, AAF are sooooo happy to be in Level 1. Now, let the fun continue!”
AAF Chief Executive David Inns is also extremely happy with the news: “At a time when the performance sector is in flux around the world, we are extremely grateful to be able to go ahead with Auckland Arts Festival in 2021. The recent lockdown presented its challenges, but the Festival team has done an incredible job of responding to the situation, and we are still confident that we have an excellent presentation in store for Tāmaki Makaurau.”