“ONE HOUSE, DIFFERENT ROOMS, SHARED ROOF, ROCK FOUNDATION”
Cultural Art & Musical and Dance Culture Festivals posed the question “Future of NZ Festivals with Rise and Shine” as we know before the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters on Monday that all of New Zealand would remain in alert level 4 on, August 17, 2021, and declared Delta outbreak COVID-19 as a pandemic in August 2021. The spread of the Delta coronavirus outbreak and catastrophic health and economic consequences undoubtedly changed the conversation around the future of festivals. However, while short-term survival strategies and emergency responses received necessary attention, the impact of the pandemic also brought into focus the on-going challenges facing festival makers today.
While it is dangerous to romanticize a crisis, a disruption of this caliber will change how festivals work, perhaps for the better. Collective chaos will have positive effects. Festivals are hubs of creativity; experimental zones with the ability to reflect and reshape social discourse and New Zealand Whanau needs. This crisis has forced festivals to re-examine our mission and our value, rework our systems of operation and think outside the box.
Festivals are powerful tools for building social cohesion, advancing international relations, celebrating heritage, fostering community well-being, and providing safe zones for Cultural Artists to innovate. How festivals are programmed, managed, and curated affects who will access Cultural Art, community, and ideas. As festivals reimagine our future in a post-pandemic landscape one that will be defined by economic constraints, the continuing climate crisis, and structural injustice questions of equity, inclusion, responsibility, and empathy must be at the forefront of the conversation.
Festivals need to return to our essence, offering Whanau a chance to come together, to escape the oppressions of everyday life, to rethink collaboration, community, and culture. There is value in sharing experiences that will be calculated through ticket sales and audience numbers. However, reimaging a future for festivals must also involve reimaging business models, stakeholder Cultural Artist and community needs. A path forward needs to be practical, healing, characterized by solidarity, and open to all.
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