WOMAD has been in Taranaki for 20 years and this guy has been to them all!

July 18, 2022

Warren Smart TDN

Warren Smart still remembers walking into the very first Womad at New Plymouth’s Bowl of Brooklands and feeling like he’d left New Zealand and entered a completely different world.

He has been to every single day of every single Womad since that first one back in 2003.

“I remember seeing Che Fu performing that night, it was just incredible.”

Smart plans on being there again next year to celebrate Womad’s 20th year in Taranaki when the festival returns after a two-year hiatus due to Covid. Tickets for the event go on sale today.

Being without Womad for these last two years has Smart feeling like a part of him was missing.

He loves music, and it’s a huge part of his life especially through his role as a host on local station The Most Fm where he presents Kiwiana and Under The Mic both funded by NZ On Air.

Through this role he has also got to introduce some artists and said he had really enjoyed seeing the festival from backstage.

Smart’s standout acts from the last 20 years were ones he had never heard of before such as Mariza, a fado singer from Portugal, and Daara J, a rap duo from Senegal.

Since that first festival in 2003, which he went home and raved about to wife Virginia who missed out due to food poisoning, Smart says Womad has got bigger, better, and slicker.

The Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (TAFT) which puts on the festival were masterful at what they did, Smart said.

“I’m really thankful for Taft, for having the vision to see how they could change what is just an ordinary park into a global village for three days with music, stages and food and thankful for bringing it to us all.

“It’s amazing that no matter what happens, the weather’s always fine, the rain seems to come the week after.”

From March 17 – 19 2023 Womad will welcome performers back from around the world and across Aotearoa with eight stages.

Over its 20 years in Taranaki, WOMAD NZ has presented more than 500 acts, involving 1500 performers from 95 countries.

Some of those have been internationally famous artists such as Kiwi superstar Neil Finn in 2008, Sinead O’Connor took to the main stage in 2015, hip hop royalty De La Soul performed in 2016 and The Blind Boys of Alabama in 2020.

The event has also hosted Kiwi favourites such as Tiki Taane, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Kora, Lawrence of Arabia and even Taranaki bands Shaskeen Reel and The Slacks.

In its tenure the Womad in Taranaki has had 150,000 visitors through its gates and generated over $100 million for the local economy.

Venture Taranaki Chief Executive Kelvin Wright said Womad was part of Taranaki’s cultural fabric.

“Bringing all corners of the world to the iconic Brooklands Park over three days while delivering significantly to the vibrancy of our region.

“It is also a major attractor of visitation, contributing economically, and engendering a positive regional profile through the positioning of Taranaki as a lively and dynamic region.”

New Plymouth Labour MP Glen Bennett called it Taranaki’s most-loved, most diverse, and intergenerational festival.

“I love the vibrancy, creativity and of course the smells and tastes that Womad brings us.”

After honouring the Womad 2022 tickets that rolled over to Womad 2023, all pre-sale and early bird tickets have sold out.

The remaining general admission tickets to the 2023 three-day festival are on sale now.

Line up announcements will not be made until October.

Story originally published by Taranaki Daily News HERE >>

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