ANDY MACDONALD / TRICKS
The Matariki festival, Te Huihui-o-Matariki, was well attended in Nelson last Friday.June 24
Nelson’s arts and entertainment sector is starting to rebound after being stifled by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As more events are booked and audience numbers rise again, industry players breathe a sigh of relief after the pandemic and ensuing restrictions have seen countless shows and festivals canceled or postponed.
Mark Mekalick, manager of Nelson’s Trafalgar Park and Trafalgar Centre, said that although events were not yet at a pre-Covid level, and it could still be difficult in the next six months, there was now a feeling of optimism.
“The good thing is there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
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Mekalick said his biggest fear coming out of the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic was a possible dwindling public appetite for the events, but there had been seven sold-out Nelson Giants basketball games at Trafalgar Center this season and tickets to scheduled shows. were selling well.
There was also a lively Matariki Festival held at the Trafalgar Center and nearby Rutherford Park last Friday.
Promoters were now looking ahead to January, February and March next year and booking events “with confidence”, he said.
“It makes a difference. It’s nice to see.
“From our perspective, we have a social and economic responsibility to the community to attract great events,” Mekalick said.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have them back.”
Nelson Center of Musical Arts director James Donaldson said that while the pandemic was not over, they were noticing an upturn in activity.
“Assuming all goes well, we won’t be back to normal until next year.”
However, in June, the NCMA took a turn where it went from empty or canceled shows to 17 events and only three cancelled, Donaldson said.
Of 21 shows booked for July, 18 were still running, which was approaching capacity and only had to “translate into viewership and money”.
The NCMA also continued to be busy with low-income activities such as music lessons, Friday night lounge parties and Thursday lunchtime concerts with local artists, Donaldson said.
NCMA had enough cash through December, he said.
“If the (pandemic) effects continue to suppress activity next year, we will have to think a little more, as we have done for the last two years, to make sure that we are not a burden or that we do not take more than we can deliver.”
Boathouse manager Olivia Alden said while it had been quiet due to a lack of confidence in people to book events, bookings were now picking up.
The Boathouse held live music on Friday nights and from that Friday most of those slots were booked by artists eager to perform, Alden said. This Friday’s session dedicated to Brazilian music was almost sold out.
People were also booking private events and receptions, and the outlook looked positive, she said.
“We’re sort of preparing for a good spring and a good summer.”
The director of the Suter Art Gallery, Julie Catchpole, had also noticed that the sector was beginning to rebound.
She said it was wonderful to see the return of the French Film Festival, which had just been held at the Suter in June, and a talk at the end of a recent art exhibition drew an audience of around 70 people.
“It was like ‘Hallelujah! “”
Catchpole said school bands also returned, bringing back the sound of children’s voices and excitement.
While overseas tourists weren’t really back yet and there were still plenty of Covid and other illnesses in the community, people seemed to have more confidence to venture out, Catchpole said. .
“I always have so much hope that things will get better,” she said. “It’s wonderful to hear the voices here.”