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AUCKLAND CITY HARBOUR NEWS, JANUARY 2, 2013
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The man behind the festival curtain
Top job: David Inns has a long history in arts administration and production roles. He is chief executive of the Auckland
Arts Festival, which opens on March 6.
Photo: CATHERINE HEALY
By CATHERINE HEALY
Diplomacy, negotiation skills, a pas-
sion for the arts and a long history
in producing top-notch events are
just some of the things David Inns
brings to the table as chief executive
of the Auckland Arts Festival.
Mr Inns has been with the festi-
val since 2009 and is looking for-
ward to seeing audiences reaction
to the 2013 event, set to be the big-
The biennial festival is years in
the making and running it is a per-
manent, full-time job that keeps
seven people busy year-round, ris-
ing to 150 by March.
We re already looking at the big
shows for the 2015 festival. We have
work in development that will be
part of future festivals. Some works
can take four years to develop, Mr
While he s not directly respon-
sible for programming the festival,
he s often asked to check out an act
in New York, London or Hong Kong.
One of the star attractions of the
2013 festival is a Chinese play cal-
led Rhinoceros in Love by the Natio-
nal Theatre of China.
I saw it in Melbourne two years
ago, where it was a sell-out hit.
Mr Inns went to China to secure
the play for the Auckland Arts Fes-
tival. It comes here with the support
of the Ministry for Culture and
Heritage, the People s Republic of
China and the Asia NZ Foundation.
Doing those deals is a big part of Mr
Relationships with foreign
governments are crucial, he says.
Without the co-operation of his
counterparts in other countries it
can be difficult to bring an import-
ant work to Auckland, he says.
The top-billing play in the festival
is One Man, Two Guvnors, the
National Theatre of Great Britain s
multi-award winning comedy.
Bringing it to Auckland for two
weeks would be expensive and
impractical, but by talking to other
arts festivals and brokering a tour
of Hong Kong, Adelaide, Sydney
and Melbourne, Mr Inns and his col-
leagues have made it work.
It means Auckland shares the
cost with these other cities.
Working out how to pay for a
month of cultural splendour is per-
haps Mr Inns biggest burden.
Auckland Council stumps up a large
portion of the funds and the various
community trusts contribute a large
Still, it s a challenge to pay all the
costs involved and still price the tic-
kets at a rate Aucklanders can
We re in this to stay in business,
not to make a profit, he says.
With several free and family
friendly events as well as plenty of
tickets in the $20-40 range, Mrs
Inns says the festival is doing every-
thing it can to reach as many Auck-
landers as possible.
The festival is not elite. If you
work out your budget you can get a
lot out of it. There are certainly
some high-end shows but for some
youcantakeaCReserve ticket and
it s still a good seat.
It s our job to put performers and
audiences together and make it
work, he says.
Mr Inns was once a Taranaki
school teacher before joining the
Taranaki Arts Festival Trust in
1992. He was technical director of
Taranaki s WOMAD festival from
2003 to 2007 and spent eight years
as technical director of Assembly
Theatre in Scotland -- part of the
Edinburgh Festival. Prior to joining
the Auckland Arts Festival team he
was chief executive of the New Zea-
land International Arts Festival
The Auckland Arts Festival runs
from March 6 to 24. Phone 309 0101
or see aucklandfestival.co.nz.
CROSSWORD // SUDOKU //
THE NUMBER PLACING GAME
SOLUTION TO 038 Fill the grid
every row and
every 3x3 box
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