Sports, arts and events organisations shift gear

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From the deserted landscape of lockdown to almost-normal hustle and bustle, Dunedin is returning fully to life after the Government’s move to Alert Level 1 on Tuesday.

As businesses breathe a sigh of relief, and schools and public facilities ramp up, the city’s sport, events, and arts organisations are shifting gear as well.

Tickets have been selling fast for Saturday’s opening game of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition at Forsyth Barr Stadium, with Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark hoping for more than 20,000 spectators.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd has also reported interest from promoters for concerts later in the year.

The New Zealand International Science Festival team has seized the day and is creating a “nano edition” of its event, which will run during the first week of the July school holidays.

The festival will feature 50 events over nine days, arranged by Dunedin scientists, working with Otago Museum and the University of Otago marine studies department.

Festival director Dan Hendra said it was “a big responsibility” to present one of the first multi-day events in the country since lockdown was lifted.

“We are also hugely excited to be able to present a festival this year, after it was looking so unlikely just a few months ago,”he said.

Regent Theatre board chairwoman Alison Cunningham said the theatre box office was “flat out” this week selling tickets to Saturday’s rugby game, as people embraced the opportunity to attend an event.

The possibility of holding a version of the theatre’s annual book sale later in the year was being discussed, and there were shows coming up in September, she said.

“We are hoping that Creative New Zealand will use some of its funding boost to support touring shows, which we would love to host.”

City Choir Dunedin director David Burchell said the choir would resume its rehearsals next Tuesday, June 16, to work towards its “Songs for Humanity” concert.

Featuring Faure’s beloved Requiem, complemented by works by living composers Ola Gjeilo, Peteris Vasks and Christopher Marshall, the concert’s theme of peace would be “very much for the present time”, he said.

A date is yet to be set for the performance, which will be accompanied by the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra.

General manager Philippa Harris said the orchestra’s musicians were “primed and ready to be back on stage”.

The first two concerts would be virtual “DSO@Home” shows, recorded and filmed at Hanover Hall and streamed online.

The first concert, to be streamed at the end of June, will feature ensembles of up to seven playing works from JS Bach to Schubert. The second concert, to be streamed in mid-July, will involve 30 players.

The DSO would be ‘‘back to normal’’ in August, with a return to the town hall on August 22, and other concerts planned, including the postponed “Beethoven’s Big Birthday Bash’’.