The annual Auckland Arts Festival (AAF) is back again, and there is set to be an extravaganza of beautiful and striking performances across the city. The Festival starts on 11 March and runs until 29 March.

David Inns, CEO of the AAF says it is so important for Auckland to host a festival like this each year – socially, economically and culturally.

“The AAF has helped put the city on the map as a destination to celebrate the arts. We showcase international works which would not come to Auckland outside of the festival, and support, develop and present new New Zealand works. Audiences are always amazed by the programme,” says David.

David has been CEO of the AAF since 2009, and prior to this was the chief executive of the New Zealand International Arts Festival. David has seen a lot of growth since 2016 when the AAF moved from a bi-annual event to an annual event.

Once a trumpet player and theatre lover, David and his whole family are involved in the arts in some way and working for the AAF means David gets to do what he enjoys every day.

“Following an early career in education, I’ve worked in the arts sector including Taranaki Arts Festival  and WOMAD, the main and Fringe Festivals in Edinburgh, and with a range of international arts festivals and companies, but of them all, Auckland Arts Festival has been my favourite,” says David.

David says Aucklanders should be excited for the upcoming events.

“From dance to theatre to circus to visual arts, there is something for everyone! The vast programme of more than 40 individual events celebrates people and culture, investigates some of the most important issues facing the world today and offers audiences a chance to escape with a few laughs.”

This year the festival is returning to the Auckland Domain for the first time in three years, with one of the standout performances happening there, which plans to bring magic to the city skies. Aerial spectacular Place des Anges by French company Compaignie Gratte Ciel will be the outdoor event of the summer says David, “it is an evening of pure unadulterated joy under a sky filled with dream like images, angels and acrobats, who will then release tonnes of feathers on the crowd below. It is one not to be missed!”

David’s top suggestions for the residents of Rawhiti and their friends are, Snow White by Ballet Preljocaj, masterminded by acclaimed French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj with costumes by iconic fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. For lovers of classical music, there is Orlando di Lasso’s heavenly masterpiece Lagrime di San Pietro, performed by Los Angeles Master Chorale’s spine-tingling a cappella performance, directed by leading opera director Peter Sellars. And, a top pick for the festival this year is Barry McGovern in Watt by Samuel Beckett. Watt captures the writer’s dark world view, scintillating humour and delicious wordplay. It will have you in raptures contemplating the absurdity of life.

An underdog performance to see is Dimanche, a theatre show complete with puppets that look at just how some of us do all we can to deny climate change is happening. It is a pure gem of visual storytelling centred on the planet’s climate change crisis.

Another great aspect about the AAF is that last year the Festival introduced the Toitū Te Reo programme strand, as a commitment to the celebration and normalisation of te reo Māori. Included in the Toitū Te Reo programme this year is the free opening night concert Tira in Aotea Square, where Hollie Smith, Hātea Kapa Haka and choirs from around Auckland will lead the crowd in a special performance of Smith’s hit ‘Bathe in The River’, and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ sung in te reo Māori.

For more information on the Auckland Arts Festival and to purchase tickets, click here.