Auckland audiences have embraced the reopening of some of the city’s most iconic arts and entertainment venues, with more than 14,000 people attending events and experiences at Auckland Live theatres and spaces last weekend.
The Aotea Centre, Auckland Town Hall, The Civic, and Bruce Mason Centre were bursting at the seams as Aucklanders of all ages and tastes soaked up the live theatre, exhibitions, concerts and events that took place in central Auckland and Takapuna.
Under Covid-19 Alert Level 1, the venues reopened on 7 October with no restrictions on crowd sizes, or the need for social distancing.
Opening on Friday night, matinée and evening performances of Mary Poppins played to packed houses and standing ovations from crowds thrilled to be back in the iconic theatre after long months of waiting. The much-anticipated season launch marked the largest theatre gathering in the post-Covid world.
An expectant, sold-out crowd streamed into the 2000-plus seat Great Hall at the Auckland Town Hall for the Shapeshifter concert, also on Friday night. This was the first concert of scale at the Great Hall since April, and it was a high-energy celebration of music, dance, and togetherness for those in attendance.
As the Great Hall was transformed into Labour Party HQ on Saturday night, fans of classical musical simultaneously got their live music hit when the NZTrio took over the Town Hall’s Concert Chamber, and then enthusiastically welcomed the Auckland Youth Orchestra to the Great Hall stage on Sunday.
Meanwhile, children and families in their hundreds lined up to see performances of Matariki for Tamariki by the NZ Dance Company at the Town Hall’s Concert Chamber and the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, respectively.
Auckland Live and Auckland Conventions, Venues & Events director, Robbie Macrae, says the first full weekend of operations under Level 1 was a reaffirming start to what many are hoping will be a long and successful spring/summer arts and events season in Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau.
“When we were all in the grip of Level 3 and Level 4 lockdowns it was tough at times to imagine when we would be able to reopen our venue doors to the public, and the effect of Covid on people’s appetites to come together in these spaces again,” says Mr Macrae.
“As this past weekend proves, people are making re-engagement with live arts and performances a priority. We’re seeing the pleasure of that re-engagement in their smiles and laughter, their feedback to our front of house staff, and of course in the uptake of tickets for all types of events,” he says.
“In addition, demand from businesses and organisations requesting our venues for small to large-scale meetings, conventions, end of year functions, and industry-wide events is fast heading back to pre-Covid levels.
“Our Conventions team is finding optimism amongst the community is high, and that while much can be achieved over Zoom calls, nothing beats a personal, meaningful connection.”
See the weekend that was, here.