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Welcome to the 2017 Auckland Arts Festival

Nau mai, haere mai ki Te Ahurei Toi o Tamaki Makaurau


The Festival is a catalyst that creates opportunities for artists to communicate with audiences and audiences to respond to artists’ work.

Humans have used art to express themselves and their ideas about the world since time immemorial. Great artists tell stories through their art form – not only with words but with pictures, light, movement and sound. They cause controversy, they start revolutions and, little by little, they change the world.

Artists make art part of life, not an adjunct to it. They raise spirits, make our hearts leap, make us smile, leave thoughts running through our heads, challenge us and make our stomachs lurch with fear or anticipation. Every artist is different and the intention of their art is not always direct but it can lead us to make new discoveries and to want to find out more.

This Festival I have curated a wide variety of artists and events to reach out to the many and varied audiences of Tāmaki Makaurau and beyond. In the 2017 Festival we honour these artists – some from around the world and some from here in Aotearoa – from those who have been making art for many years to those at the beginning of their journey.

We invite you to explore new worlds in The Encounter; glory in the rarely experienced masterpiece, Passio; see light used as never before in Power Plant; experience the changing nature of the four seasons in RICE; sing along with Rufus performing the songs of Judy Garland; belly laugh with the blokes from The Biggest; take the family to the circus with iD; see sublime work by our greatest photojournalist Brian Brake; join the crowds on White Night; scream to your heart’s content in Horror; sign up to be part of a new Festival project Whānui and hear stunning music in The Bone Feeder, a uniquely New Zealand opera.

This is my last festival for Auckland. After almost 30 years in the festival business it's time to retire. Over the years I have been privileged to work with and present many great artists, and 2017 adds a few more to the list, such as the world’s greatest ballerina, Natalia Osipova. This year I also welcome back a couple of old friends like Jason Te Kare, Colin McColl, VOICES New Zealand Chamber Choir and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, whose work appears in Natalia Osipova & Guests.

Along with my colleague of many years, the Festival’s CEO David Inns, and our Board and staff, I welcome you on this journey. We hope that after participating in Auckland Arts Festival 2017 you’ll take a few risks: start your own Revolutions and always call for Respect for all peoples.

Carla van Zon, Artistic Director

Auckland Arts Festival wouldn’t happen without a wide family of supporters. Along with Auckland Festival Trust Board members and Festival staff, we say thank you to those who have enabled this Festival to happen. In particular, we thank our core funders – Auckland Council, Creative New Zealand and Foundation North – and our other funders, supporters, patrons and partners whose contributions have a lasting impact on the heart and life of the Festival.

Together, we also say a warm and heartfelt thank you to Artistic Director Carla van Zon for the vision, drive and inspiration with which she has shaped Auckland Arts Festival over the last six years, and the New Zealand arts scene for many more years before that. Her passion for the development and nurturing of New Zealand artists has seen our home-grown industry grow from strength-to-strength, within New Zealand and internationally.

Carla’s contribution to the arts spreads beyond the shores of New Zealand – she has inspired, supported and encouraged many thousands of artists around the world.

We join Carla in welcoming you on your Auckland Arts Festival 2017 journey. Enjoy the ride.

John Judge, Festival Trust Chair and David Inns, Chief Executive


John Judge, Auckland Festival Trust Chair, Carla van Zon, Artistic Director, David Inns, Chief Executive.

Photograph: Stephen Robinson