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Festival celebrates NZ's creative contribution

A festival aimed at promoting New Zealand's contribution to global culture and celebrating our creative energies and ethnic diversity begins this week.

Open Connection is an international arts and culture festival hosted by Victoria University. Beginning on March 1, the event is a month long party expressly for people to make a noise about where they're from and where they're at. Connecting up with Asia 2000, Wellington Fringe Festival, Wellington City Council and Victoria's student orientation, the festival is an open spree for art, fashion, food, theatre, film, and reading and writing.

Organiser and Victoria University Lecturer in European Languages, Dr Keren Smith says there is too much angst-ridden state of the nation analysis in New Zealand at the moment. "We read about the brain drain, the general who am I crisis in 'mainstream' New Zealand and the medals we didn't win in the Olympics last year - we appear to have a flair for self-flagellation".

"It's time to wake up from the sleep that has kept our eyes wide shut to our creative energies and celebrate the many positive cultural contributions New Zealand has to offer", she says.

The Open Connection festival is being held in Victoria University's Quad on March 1 at 8.30 pm. The theme is "Asia connects with Europe connects with Pacific". Zambesi fashion is the focus and the show owes as much to the theatre as to the catwalk. Three 'mansions' act as symbolic gateways confirming the tripartite cultural focus.

Rappers Te Kupu and Don Luchito bring their own powerful rhythmic energy to the event which is followed by an international bash with food from Wellington's embassies being accompanied by Indonesian Gamelan percussion.

Smith says the opening night demonstrates what the festival is about. "It's a whole month of openness to take on old moves and make new connections. Instead of herding people into a world that's getting smaller and smaller, the festival aims at expanding boundaries while respecting the need for personal and individual ground."

Further details about Open Connection are available at www.openconnection.org or by contacting Keren Smith on 04 463-5798.

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