News | 20 January 2021
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The Capital sets the stage to Love Local

The capital is alive and kicking with hundreds of events and activities happening over the next few months, encouraging Wellingtonians to come to town, shop local, eat out, get entertained – and share the aroha.

Image of ballet performer on escooter for City Theatre

The summer calendar is full of free and accessible events with Pasifika and the inaugural Welly Weekend on this anniversary weekend, the 42nd Gardens Magic continues to attract huge crowds to the Wellington Botanic Garden ki Paekākā, Te Rā o Waitangi and Whānau Film Night are coming up, and the city is to become a stage with The Performance Arcade 2021 and What If The City Was A Theatre? hitting the streets and waterfront over the next months.

The interaction between arts, culture, hospitality and retail tourism is essential to our economy and to Wellington being a fabulous, lively, diverse, exciting City to live in and visit, says Wellington Mayor Andy Foster.

“Wellington’s business, creative, and hospitality industries are still feeling the effects of COVID-19, so we continue investing and focusing on attracting people into the city to support local, and keep the vibrancy of our wonderful City.

“The huge programme of free and accessible city-wide events and arts coming up will captivate and appeal to a wide audience, bringing people from near and far into the heart of the city – to shop, explore, enjoy some kai, and be entertained by incredible home grown talent.”

Image of performers on Cable Car for City Theatre
Cable Car Duets - The Metamorphosis Artists

One of the big new festivals coming up is What If The City Was A Theatre? Put on by The Performance Arcade, the event is a collaboration between the capital’s creative community, with support from Wellington NZ, Trustpower, Creative NZ, and Wellington City Council, which also provided funding of $150,000 to lead the programme.

The free festival will feature more than 300 individual performances from 25 collaborators, and Director Sam Trubridge invites Wellington audiences to take part, to step beyond familiar routines and find new spaces to discover in our urban playground.

“Imagine a city of live art. Wellington is the right place for it. Our compact centre and collaborative communities make this city a place of dense creative opportunity,” says Sam.

“There is an incredible chemistry here, where artists rub shoulders with politicians, businesspeople, tradespeople, scientists, students, and scholars.

“Founding The Performance Arcade ten years ago, Wellington was the right home for this idea. In 2021, our new programme ‘What If The City Was A Theatre?’ explores the whole city as a productive environment for performance, held between three maūnga on one side and the waters of Te Whanganui-a-Tara on the other.”

The festival opens on Friday 5 February with a dance performance by Movement Of The Human at Whairepo Lagoon.

Image of summer busking spot decal

Buskers are invited to take part in the festivities too, with large pink decals along the waterfront designed to encourage a wide range of performers to bring their talent to the area, especially over lunchtimes and weekends. The busking dots spread from Kumutoto and Queens Wharf, right down to the popular hot spots near Te Papa and the lagoon.

Wellington City Council is also proud supporters of the Urban Dream Brokerage which will be supporting many of these events and activities by sourcing spaces for creative communities and projects in vacant and underutilised retail and public spaces.