Auckland Arts Festival is a celebration, a time to come together each year as a community to share in the spirit and creativity of artists, and to celebrate our place in the world.
Festivals have been a part of human culture for all time. People have festivals to celebrate the seasons, to rejoice in relationships with their gods, to note important moments in life's journey and to be at one with their community and nature.
Auckland Arts Festival is an event that supports existing and flourishing artists as well as emerging ones. It's where artists are able to present work with less financial risk, as the Auckland Festival Trust takes the risk for them.
It allows artists to take a risk creatively, to work perhaps in a different media or across art forms rather than in a single one. The festival also supports creative enterprise, working in partnership with other arts companies and producers.
It leads and fosters the creation of work of national and international significance, strengthening the dialogue with the arts community and providing many artists and arts workers with greater continuity of employment and access to wider markets for their work across New Zealand and beyond.
Its leadership role in the development and presentation of new NZ work is constantly growing, and, in line with major Australian arts festivals, is greatly enhanced by now being an annual event.
The festival reflects and relates to this city. The artists, both international and local, are selected to allow audiences to experience a greater diversity of contemporary arts they would otherwise not have an opportunity to experience.
Through programming work from a wide range of countries, the festival also works to further increase the diversity of our audiences.
In particular, it creates opportunities for school students and young people - our future artists and audiences - to connect with international and NZ events and to directly experience art and artists from other cultures.
Auckland Arts Festival 2016 has a real variety of shows and events - something for almost everyone, from extraordinary BBoys to seductive tango to great opera and intimate NZ drama - and you don't even have to go to a theatre for some of it.
In Carabosse's Fire Garden, you can wander amongst great balls of fire in the Domain. There are some special works unique to us and NZ premieres.
The festival's first theatre work in the Korean language is a masterful, moving, musical look at the Greek tragedy Oedipus; a project with dance company Black Grace is also a first, with two world premieres, one by Neil Ieremia and the other by Singapore's Swee Boon Kuik; and The James Plays are epic theatre that's "as addictive as any box set", and relate directly to our experiences here in NZ.
The Scots always say we are like them - particularly in relation to issues over land. It's like having the world on your doorstep.
David Inns is the Auckland Arts Festival chief executive. The festival is now an annual event delivering local and international theatre, dance, music, circus and cabaret. It starts tomorrow and runs until Sunday, March 20.