Artsplash – Doing it for the Kids for 27 Years

26 August 2014

Behind the scenes of New Zealand’s biggest primary and intermediate event is Mary Prichard who has been helping to organise and coordinate Artsplash for 27 years.

Artsplash Children's Choir

Artsplash children's choir

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With over 8,000 children to organise in two of Wellington’s biggest venues, Mary has a few challenges to meet. But the hard work is nothing when you see those children perform on the Michael Fowler Centre and Opera House stages, in front of a combined 18,000 strong crowd and one that is growing every year.

“From the dressing rooms to the stage the kids really get a buzz from the experience. It is the only event like it in New Zealand and presents an opportunity for a lot of kids from across the Wellington region to come into the city to perform in two of our iconic venues, on a big stage in front of a big audience.”

Mary Prichard was a teacher, then a lecturer and arts advisor for the College of Education. From humble beginnings, starting as a one-day visual art exhibition beneath the Oriental Parade Band Rotunda, the iconic festival has grown into a week-long series of 12 events with help from Wellington City Council.

Artsplash is completely accessible to everyone, it is all inclusive, the kids come from all different backgrounds. Seatoun School will be signing as well as singing their songs,” Mary says, “and we have our second generation of children coming through now.”

Artsplash has been an incubator for many of our emerging young artists. Internationally renowned tenor, Ben Makisi performed in Artsplash, alongside the children’s mass choirs’ in 2009 and 2010. Soprano Bianca Andrews is another artist that has come through and is soon to be heading to London to begin her study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London.

This year Wellington Band Supermodel will be leading a large massed choir of 800 primary and intermediate school children. The children will also be part of Supermodel’s next music video for their song, Fly by Night.

Wellington Youth Sinfonietta Orchestra and Chilton Amadeus Orchestra will also be accompanying the massed choirs over three nights alongside professional musicians that make up the Artsplash Band.

Students celebrate and perform in all of the Arts over six days, with four dance shows, two drama shows, six music & Wearable Art shows and up to 1000 works of visual art exhibited in the Renouf Foyer.

Natasha Petkovic-Jeremic, City Arts Manager for the Council says Mary's positive energy and passion, when it comes to involving kids in the arts, is tireless. “Studies show that the benefits of having a strong arts focus in schools results in better outcomes across all subjects. It is great for Wellington, great for the venues and most of all a wonderful experience for the kids, one they never forget.”

Artsplash runs from 2-12 September. The full programme can be viewed here: Artsplash. Door sales are $5 a ticket.