10,000 students to invade Wellington for Artsplash

Artsplash, Wellington's annual Young People's Arts Festival, is about to take over the Creative Capital, as 10,000 young people prepare for an extraordinary showcase of music, dance, drama, and…

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Artsplash, Wellington's annual Young People's Arts Festival, is about to take over the Creative Capital, as 10,000 young people prepare for an extraordinary showcase of music, dance, drama, and visual arts.
Artsplash, Wellington's annual Young People's Arts Festival, is about to take over the Creative Capital, as 10,000 young people prepare for an extraordinary showcase of music, dance, drama, and visual arts.
The 2004 programme begins on Monday 2 August, with a week of orchestra, choir, and dance concerts in the Michael Fowler Centre. Another week of drama workshops follows in venues from the Town Hall to the Westpac St James Theatre, and over 1000 pieces of student art will be on view at the Waterfront's Shed 11. Most activities are open to the public, and residents and visitors are invited to share in Wellington's upcoming Artsplash Festival.

"Our major rehearsals began this week, in preparation of the Artsplash Concerts to be presented at the Michael Fowler Centre," said Co-ordinator Mary Prichard, noting that thousands of young people are mobilising from Porirua to Upper Hutt to Kilbirnie. "That's the beauty of the Festival. It brings together kids from all over the region, to share the creative process and collaborate on orchestra, choir, dance, kapa haka, musical theatre, and everything in between."

Now in its 17th year, Artsplash has become New Zealand's largest annual celebration of young talent. Over 100 primary and intermediate schools from throughout the region are involved in the events, which are designed to encourage expression, cultural awareness, and the creative spark. The Festival is a partnership between Wellington City Council and the Artsplash Education Trust, and also receives generous support from the New Zealand Community Trust and Wellington Waterfront Ltd.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Eric Holowacz, Community Arts Co-ordinator for the Council. "The energy produced during the Festival is unlimited. Anyone who sits down to an Artsplash performance, or views the massive exhibition, will be overwhelmed by the talents, ideas, and confidence of our young people."

The Festival opens with three dance programmes and five music concerts between 2-5 August. The popular "Schools for Schools" concerts, presented for a student audience of several thousand, are scheduled for 5 and 6 August - also in the Michael Fowler Centre. The second week of the Festival brings theatre workshops, and the Westpac St James Drama Spectacular on 9 August at 6pm.

The festival continues with the Young at Heart concert, a special programme by young people presented for the region's senior citizens, on 6 August at 1pm in the Michael Fowler Centre. Two special events are scheduled for the Ilott Theatre in the Town Hall. On 7 August at 3pm, a free concert by the young players of the Wellington Suzuki Institute will be presented. That will be followed by a free performance by the Wellington Youth Sinfonietta on 8 August at 3pm. For admission and complete details about all Artsplash events, please contact 385 1929.

This year the visual arts will take centre stage in a new venue, Shed 11 on the waterfront, with an exhibition theme 'Fun on the Wellington Waterfront.' This is being presented, from 3-12 August, in conjunction with a major new mural project for local schools which shares the same theme. Created by 40 school groups from throughout the region and sponsored by Wellington Waterfront, the mural wall will be installed around the Waitangi Park construction site, just in time for Artsplash.

"It's been a very enjoyable experience to work with local teachers and classes, and then see their creative, colourful designs emerge," said Mark O'Brien, a Wellington-based artist who is supervising both the Artsplash exhibition and Waitangi Park mural. The scenes include children playing along Wellington's waterfront, sports and weekend activities, as well as local creatures and marine life.

"The students' imaginative responses show that the region's creative future is in good hands," said O'Brien, who will be co-ordinating school groups at the mural site on 29 and 30 July. Hundreds of students are scheduled to paint large-scale designs in the garage building between Te Papa and the Herd Street Post Office. Their completed panels will be assembled into a 160-metre wall around the Waitangi Park construction site, where they will remain on view for more than a year.

"The Artsplash Festival has always been about what creative young people love doing - from performing in a choir of hundreds and expressing themselves with song and dance to creating live theatre and painting their world," said Holowacz. "There's really nothing like it, and no better sign of a bright, shining, creative future for Wellington."

Written by

Eric Vaughn Holowacz

30 Jul 2004

Eric Vaughn Holowacz was born in Princeton, New Jersey and grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Irmo High School, and was a member of its National Championship academic Quiz Bowl Team in 1986.