The inaugural Waitaki Arts Festival has been a hit with locals and visitors alike, as well as those performing for them.
From September 21 to October 8, the arts in their various forms were celebrated at locations around Oamaru, from the Oamaru Opera House to buses rolling along the town’s streets.
Waitaki Arts Festival organiser Frances McElhinney said the programme had been received “very well” and resulted in sold-out signs going up at some venues.
“We had limitations with size with some of the venues, but we ended up with four full houses – that’s four sold-out shows – so it’s been pretty good.”
She said events such as the arts festival allowed people to take in shows and events they might not have otherwise thought about, something she believed had contributed to the festival’s positive reviews.
“People have taken a risk and gone to see things and loved it, and that’s what it’s all about. To have an opportunity to see something you haven’t seen and walk away feeling wowed – as festival director, that’s pretty rewarding.”
Mrs McElhinney said the concept of the arts festival had worked out as hoped.
“I think what’s worked really well is using and exploring all of the different spaces, because that’s what makes Oamaru unique – all of the amazing spaces and the people.”
Looking to the future, she said the plan was always to hold the event every two years.
However, there was consideration being given to holding an event on a smaller scale as a “wee taster” to what the following year’s arts festival may offer.
She believed it was a huge ask for potential sponsors and staff involved to commit money and time to an annual event.
“We have to take that into account,” Mrs McElhinney said.
As far as any tweaks to future arts festivals go, there would be discussions about what worked well and what didn’t in the near future.
“We need to sit back and reflect on it. We will have a debrief . . . and go through all of those things.”