Kelie Jensen

10 August 2018

With a background in business management and accountancy, Kelie Jensen, who grew up in Hastings, worked abroad in London and Canada as a chartered accountant while also gaining a fine arts degree in drama, before returning to the Bay. “I’ve performed and done a bit of playwriting, but mostly my career has been a merging of those skills, so it’s a lot of the business side of the arts and a lot to do with youth.”

Kelie’s involved in running NYDS (National Youth Drama School) and for the last two years Hawke’s Bay’s Edible Fashion Awards. She’s been involved in Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival since 2016, in the role that’s evolved from funding applications and front-of-house tasks to programme scheduling and financial management.

I’m responsible for the practicality of rolling out how a show is going to look in the schedule and then always, with Andy as well, going back to what the impact is on the budget. I try to make the numbers work for what the creative vision is, without having to restrict it, which is sometimes hard.

What I love about this role, is I do get to have creative input. This year I’ve worked pretty closely with Pitsch on the programme. It’s meant having discussions about all the pitches that come in –what to include in the programme, doing research, reading reviews, looking at clips. Having the financial background, there’s an element of forethought as to how many ticket sales we’re going to have. But there’s the other element: which shows are we going to put in anyway, because they might be really powerful or have important messages, even though they won’t be commercial.

The secret of the festival

The challenge that’s being put out to people this year, is to pick something that they maybe wouldn’t first go to. Last year we had Perri Exeter’s Mixed Tape dance show, and it was the most stunning piece of contemporary dance, but there just weren’t that many people in the audience, and I came away thinking, such a shame. When I feel really moved by something I just wish there were more people there, because it’s often the shows that aren’t commercial, that people haven’t bought tickets for, that have a huge impact on those who are lucky enough to go. It’s kind of like the secret of the festival.

I feel this year, from ticket sales so far, there’s a little bit of a trend towards people trying something different. So, I’m excited about the idea of people being moved by stuff that they’ve sort of been pushed a bit to try that they mightn’t have otherwise.

I’m also really excited for the development of White Night in Napier, because it was such a success last year, though it was then an unknown. We’ve really planned around that success, with more street performances, etc, and the fact that Pango/Black is free is incredible.

Kelie's picks

I love theatre – that’s the thing I’m most passionate about. I want to sit in a show and feel really impacted by it, in that afterwards it continues to percolate – it might make you think about how you interact with someone or how you might answer a question with your kids; there’s a through thread that’s still there and it’s still kind of niggling at you a bit.

On that note, my picks would be Wild Dogs Under My Skirt and Jane Doe, because I think they are that kind of theatre. The energy around these shows, in terms of reviews and from people who I’ve spoken to who have seen them, I feel like they’re really going to blow it out of the water. They’ll be impactful: really gritty, strong and challenging, but moving too, I think.

Then to round it out, we’ve bought tickets to uplifting late night shows: Wilson Dixon –  thought-provoking but hilarious at the same time – and George and Noriko, for lots of good energy and pure fun.

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