It was an absolute pounding by rain and daylight savings last week—but the arts calendar stays on that grind. Here’s what you missed:
Artists Make Auckland takes off
Something is brewing in the Greys Ave gully. And though the Myers Park construction may never get finished, across the carpark the team at Basement Theatre are setting about filling in the potholes in the Auckland arts economy. A new collaboration between the space and collective D.A.M.N (Dignity And Money Now) launched at Basement’s 15th Birthday party last weekend. D.A.M.N’s inception in 2021 was in response to the under-investment and instability of the arts sector made clear by Covid lockdowns, cultivating in the “Artists on $trike” movement. Earlier this year, the group were also key voices around the proposed Council budget cuts, running the “STOP THE CUTS” social media campaign.
Now their latest work, “Artists Make Auckland” is coming into the light. It’s based off of “Artists Make New York”, a long-term participatory mural project that profiles artists working in the city, and draws on community groups for input in the process to create collaborative public art. And what better way to bring this kaupapa to Auckland than by celebrating the birthday of one of the few independent venues still standing in the city, not only surviving the last few years but growing to support more artists than ever before? 15 years of Basement is monumental—especially as such an accessible foot in the door to the industry, where you can go to find some of the best support in the city as an artist, emerging or established.
The support was clearly mutual at the packed bday blowout, where no downpours could dampen the party. The exclusive first drop of Artists Make Auckland merch was available for revellers; the first move of what is shaping up to be a widespread campaign by AMA’S rocketing social media following in just the last week. As of a few days ago, an Artists Make Auckland website has appeared, where the merch will be available and presumably future plans for the movement will be broadcast.
Flying Nun builds a new nest on Karangahape Road
Arguably the country’s most historic record label has finally come to town—nestling itself opposite St Kevin’s arcade, where it would be easy to mistake it as having always been there. The shop is sparkling new, warm, plastered with coffee table books of every genre, local artist biographies, and NZ music history memorabilia.
But there’s far more to it than appears on the surface—the shop is not just operating as retail, but has an underground office where part of the label will now be based. Shop manager Carla Camilleri said it’s an opportunity for Flying Nun to “work and connect with new local artists even better than before.” Before the work got started though, the subterranean space was overtaken by some of Flying Nun’s best and brightest new artists—Voom, Office Dog, Vera Ellen, Clementine Valentine, and Erny Belle—for a stacked opening party. And this was no Tiny Desk concert, there is an actual stage in this office (because of course there is), clearly offering some potential for future performances to be hosted there.
Based on the turnout, more events would be a smart move—both the store itself and the basement were packed to the rafters with record lovers and local music listeners. Carla said of the crowds: “We weren’t expecting much, just a small crowd, but there ended up being a line out the door. It became a real ribbon-cutting moment, which was awesome.” Flying Nun’s beloved and not-at-all sleep-paralysis-demon-esque mascot Fuzzy also made an appearance, now a permanent resident of Karangahape Road free to vote Chloe and drink Bestie coffee to its heart’s desire.