‘Miracle’ arts festival able to take place


The show must go on — and director Frances McElhinney made sure the Waitaki Arts Festival did just that.

‘‘It was a miracle that we were able to have productions,’’ Mrs McElhinney said.

From October 15 to 24, the Waitaki district celebrated the arts within its borders, despite the challenges presented by Alert Level 2.

While some events had to be cancelled, Michael Houstoun and Rodger Fox Big Band’s performance was able to go ahead, and was the first show held in Oamaru Opera House’s auditorium under Level 2, boasting a sociallydistanced audience of 162 people.

The following evening’s show, Poetry and Music in the North Otago Landscape, also drew in a crowd as violinist Susan Urschitz, pianist Dr Ron Newton, and narrator Desiree Williamson paid homage to significant Waitaki artists Janet Frame, Colin McCahon and Douglas Lilburn.

‘‘It was exceptional,’’ Mrs McElhinney said.

‘‘They are all local — we have some incredibly talented people here.’’

This year the festival joined forces with Meet the Maker, which took place at the weekend.

Blessed with a sunny couple of days, artists and artisans from Palmerston to Duntroon welcomed people into their studios.

‘‘On Saturday [the makers] had so many people — so that’s fabulous.’’

The festival drew in many visitors from outside the district, one person travelling all the way from Nelson to see a concert.

Mrs McElhinney said the festival was very well received and she was already looking forward to the next one.