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Festival Countdown!

Dear e-mail friends,

Summer greetings to you all. I hope that you’ve had a good break and enjoyed the festive season.

The next Festival will begin exactly one year from today - on 22 February 2002. Not so long ago we seemed to have plenty of time and the Festival felt a long way away. However, now it feels like tomorrow. Put the date in your diary!

I am very pleased to be back in Wellington, and in the office working with the Festival team. We are still a small team but very busy, steaming ahead with planning the 2002 New Zealand Festival.

This Postcard may not seem as exciting as when I was writing about exotic places but it is great to be home and I am finding the work very satisfying. Also, it is very nice to sleep in one’s own bed.

I would like to tell you about the next stage, for me, after seeing all those performances overseas. This process is very much a part of making the Festival happen, where the ideas in my head start to become reality..

Since returning to New Zealand, we have made a draft plan or “grid” for the Festival. Today’s grid is different from last week’s grid and when you finally see the Festival programme, it will probably be unrecognisable. I have considered all the performances and events that I have attended, made endless lists marked A or B and then had some sleepless nights. I always worry if you will like what I have selected! So I thought that I would tell you how I select elements of the programme.

My first criterion is that I like the work. This is totally subjective. Secondly, the work has to be of high quality. Thirdly, it should be something exciting, different or challenging that we would not see often - or ever - in New Zealand, if it weren't for the existence of the Festival.

Following this, I try to put myself in your shoes. All of you are different so I become a bit schizophrenic. I try to look with the eyes and mind and listen with the ears of a lot of different people. I ask myself, what will excite you, what will challenge you and what will give you a totally new experience? I know that I will not please everyone. But you should know that everything we include in the Festival is considered from many different angles.

There are still lots of gaps in the draft programme but a shape is starting to take place. From this point on, Alex Reedijk, the Executive Director, takes over. He has already offered a different perspective on the various programme elements and now he adds the financial stringency test. He budgets all the possible events that I would like to include in the Festival. He has to look at both the potential income and the expenditure of each event. Already, some have not made the first cut. At the same time, Alex has begun the long task of negotiation with various companies, artists and their agents. It is an area that one always thinks will be over with simply in two letters and yet it somehow never quite works out that way..

As well as the international work, we are selecting projects by New Zealand artists, to be developed into shows. We received an enormous number of proposals from New Zealanders and the decisions have been very hard to make. Alex was successful in gaining some 'seed' development funding from Creative New Zealand and that has been shared amongst 16 artists, to allow them take their idea a stage further. At the end of March they will present their ideas to us and it is from this showing that we will select the work which we will produce and present in 2002. Shelagh Magadza, who has been at the Festival since 1991, has just returned to start work as the Deputy Executive Director, and one of her first tasks is to organize the artists' 'Show & Tell'.

Also back at the Festival are our Marketing and Communications Director, Simone Ellis, and our Sponsorship Coordinator, Paula Granger.The three of us have started once again on raising sponsorship from the corporate community. The Festival is enjoying some success in the public and philanthropic arena – we are receiving good support from our core funder, Wellington City, and from our principal supporter, the Community Trust of Wellington. It is not enough that we select, present and market the performances - we must ensure that the Festival is financially viable.

In late March, we hope to be able to announce a couple of events planned for 2002. At the same time, the Friends of the Festival will be sending out their membership renewal and we will be offering Season Tickets for sale. So, in order to get this information:

- if you are not a Friend of the Festival and wish to be sent a membership application form please email Carol on nzfestival@festival.co.nz with your name and postal contact details.

or

- if you are a Friend of the Festival and know other Friends who have not given us their e-mail details (and aren’t receiving this Postcard from us) please pass this along to them. In addition, let them know that they can register their email address on the Festival website at www.nzfestival.telecom.co.nz

Email will be one of the ways that we let people know about news and special deals in the coming Festival. It is a great form of communication – one that I am slowly coming to grips with.

We believe that the next New Zealand Festival is going to be fantastic. I know that there will be many events that you will want to attend, from a superlative ballet company to a wonderful chamber music ensemble to a challenging contemporary theatre work.. and much more.

I look forward to keeping in touch with Festival news!

Until next time,
kindest regards
Carla van Zon


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