PICNIC WITH JAZZ: The relaxed atmosphere at Jazz in the Park. File photo

IF it seems as though every week brings with it a new arts event, it could be due to Whakatane’s Summer Arts Festival getting into full swing.

This annual programme of events runs from January through to April every year and includes music, dance, theatre, film, art, and sculpture events.

Besides the usual art exhibitions and artist talks at Te Koputu – Whakatane library and exhibition centre, the first big event this year is the Sculpture Symposium.

This week-long event begins this weekend at the Whakatane Rose Gardens, at the river end of McGarvey Road.

It features artists working on sculptures and there will be tutors on hand for anyone wanting to learn more about this art form.

Next weekend will be the Dance Carnival, which is a celebration of dance in its many forms.

Performances of Eastern Bay dance and drumming groups showcases many cultures and styles.

This event will take place at Wharaurangi, on The Strand, Whakatane.

GUEST JUDGE: Dr Christopher McAuliffe will be in Whakatane for the Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award. Photo supplied

Coming up on February 9, the Rose Gardens will be the place to be once again for the annual Fresh Market Jazz in the Park. The music starts at around 5pm and continues until 8pm.

This is a great opportunity to bring along a blanket and a picnic and sit back and enjoy live music from The Jazz Quintet, supported by Eastern Bay musicians.

A ukulele group will be there and so will Whakatane’s steampunk group The League of Extraordinary Pyroclasters.

The highlight of the festival for many will be the Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award. An exhibition of work from the competition will be held at Te Koputu, kicked off with a gala opening and prizegiving on February 16.

Before the opening, on February 14, guest judge for the competiton Dr Christopher McAuliffe will be presenting a talk, titled “Is art for everyone?” He will also hold talks at the exhibition talking about the various pieces.

In March, Miss Jean Batten will be at the Whakatane Little Theater. A solo show, written by Phil Ormsby and performed by Alex Ellis tells the story of this inspirational pioneer aviator.