As we continue our ‘International Week’, we are making a stop off in New Zealand. John Laidlaw, Director at Live & Local (managers of Shindig), visited Arts on Tour NZ, whilst visiting the country in 2011; you can read more about his visit here.
John’s visit followed the crippling earthquakes that hit Christchurch and surrounding area, and he met Steve Thomas of Arts on Tour NZ, an organisation that, like Shindig, helps to deliver professionl arts to rural communities. We recently received an update from Steve on what has happened since the earthquake and the shows they’re currently touring.
“Two years after the earthquake that devastated our small South Island town, turning many suburbs into wasteland and leading to the demolition of the town centre, Arts On Tour NZ continues to distribute the creative talents of NZ to the rural and provincial centres.
Our former office was in the gloriously mock gothic Christchurch Arts Centre. The Arts Centre, an early 20th century recreation of cloisters and quadrangles, has been off limits since February 2011, when the earthquake shook the old building to the core and the walls came tumbling down. I ran from there.
Now ‘working from home’, the enterprise continues. Fortunately the community organisations we pitch to live some distance from Christchurch and their lives continue relatively undisturbed.
Our first tour of 2013 was a folk rock band, The Eastern, from the port town of Christchurch, Lyttelton. A former port for British trading ships, the main street of Lyttelton has been mainly demolished, but the creative spirit lives on. Hope and Wire is The Eastern’s album and it epitomised the struggle against the elements. The Eastern presented 29 concerts in 5 weeks to more than 3,000 people and sold over 300 CDs…a great result!
Then in March the wonderful Pacific Curls took to the road with their Maori, Rotuman, and Gaelic multicultural musical combination. They are delighted to be able to showcase their work in Scotland in July at the UK’s NRTF Conference in Stirling.
Presently touring is Cathy Downes’ award winning solo theatre piece Talking of Katherine Mansfield, described as “a treat not to be missed” by Time Out London.
Arts on Tour NZ feel a collegial association with Live & Local and have enjoyed a long association with NRTF. I look forward to meeting staff and promoters in Scotland in July and wish Shindig the best for 2013.”
We are delighted to hear that things are going well for Arts on Tour NZ and that communities like ours are still enjoying the benefits of professional live arts on their doorsteps. We wish the people of Christchurch all the best in their continuing recovery from the 2011 earthquake and hope to keep in touch with Steve and his colleagues.