Bumper arts festival ahead

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Soft 'n' Hard. Photos: Supplied

THE programme for the 10th anniversary edition of the Southland Arts Festival has been announced.

Presented by Venture Southland (VS), this year’s festival booklet is available now, giving potential audiences plenty of time to plan their viewing calendar.

VS creative projects manager and festival director Angela Newell said the festival began as May Arts Month in 2009 and had grown since. It now supported more than 40 events, showcasing 22 different shows in 10 towns.

This year it would feature theatre, storytelling, literary, dance, music and exhibitions.

Newell said organisers were celebrating the 10th anniversary with a few edgy shows, including Zanetti Productions’ contemporary performance If There’s Not Dancing At The Revolution, I’m Not Comingand husband-and-wife team Jo Randerson and Thomas LaHood, of Barbarian Productions, performing Soft ‘n’ Hard, which explores their own lives on stage.

“The festival continues to be an opportunity for us to harness amazing creativity from around New Zealand.”

Kokako’s Song.

It begins with a pre-festival warm up event in association with Arts On Tour NZ – Olive Copperbottom, a new musical by Penny Ashton and Charles Dickens – on April 13 in Waikaia (presented by VS) and April 14 in Invercargill (presented by Gillies Creative).

The festival proper will then kick off on April 25 with Repertory Invercargill’s The Last Five Years

Two special events will also make a comeback this year – the White Night and A Bit of a Yarn: Re-Stitch

Newell said they were still planning the White Nightevents and encouraged people to get involved.

“We’re keen for anybody who would like to perform – any kind of creativity that anybody would like to share with the community.”

To be held in Invercargill’s CBD, the free event on May 5 will feature artists, individuals and organisations sharing their talents with passers-by during a four hour period.

“It’s a very inclusive, engaging way of having the community show what they do.”

A new feature for this year’s festival is a relaxed concert, which will be performed by The Kugels. People will be welcome to dance, sing along and enjoy the experience in their own way.

Connect Interpreting, which manages high quality, professional New Zealand Sign Language interpreting services, is also partnering with VS to sign two shows during the festival – adults’ show Soft ‘n’ Hard and children’s show Kokako’s Song.

Newell said all tickets were on sale now, with early-bird discounts until March 31.

This year they were also running a promotion for people under the age of 30, with a special rate of $20 (plus booking fee), she said.

Southland Arts Festival, April 25-May 20. Booklets available from offices and cafes throughout Invercargill. It is also available to download at venturesouthland.co.nz/projects/events/southland-arts-festival

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