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International profile for New Zealand artists

European and United States audiences will be sampling more of New Zealand’s best artistic talent, supported by grants from Creative New Zealand announced this week.

In the latest funding round, the Arts Board has committed approximately $230,000 to opportunities for New Zealand artists internationally, Chair Christopher Finlayson said. Combined with grants made by Te Waka Toi and the Pacific Islands Arts Committee, it means that in this funding round Creative New Zealand has invested more than $430,000 in international work by New Zealand artists.

Wellington percussion group Strike, including Gareth Farr, is visiting Paris and England in November this year to perform and give workshops on Cook Islands drumming with drummer George Upu. Strike was offered $30,000 by the Arts Board for its tour.

Pacific band Te Vaka will be touring festivals during the Northern Hemisphere summer in Europe and Britain, as well as taking in WOMAD in the United States. The eleven-piece Auckland band was offered $40,000 towards its tour.

Award-winning actor Madeleine Sami was offered a grant of $30,000 to tour Toa Fraser’s award-winning play, No. 2, to the Edinburgh Festival in August. This follows the success of Fraser’s first play, Bare, which received an Edinburgh Fringe First Award in 1999.

“We are hoping to on-sell No. 2 through our exposure in Edinburgh,” Sami said.

European audiences will also be sampling a taste of Auckland electronic group Kog Transmissions, which will visit festivals in the United States and Europe. Kog Transmissions was offered $10,000 towards its tour.

The directors of the artist-run space Rm3 in Auckland are travelling to the Netherlands to work with other artist-run spaces, supported by a $13,500 grant.

In Britain, Wellington-based theatre director Vanessa Byrnes will be working as assistant director at the famous Globe Theatre in London for nine weeks. The Arts Board offered Byrnes $5000 towards her trip. It is the first time a New Zealander has been offered this position.

“The position of assistant to the director is highly sought-after and it’s a measure of the respect we have for Ms Byrne’s work that has led us to offer her this responsibility,” the director of the Globe, Patrick Spottiswoode, said.

Also in London, artist Wendy Bornholdt was offered $10,000 towards an exhibition of her work at the Museum of Installation.

Writers will benefit from a new trans-Tasman literary exchange, established by the New Zealand Book Council and supported by a $10,000 grant, while Canadian audiences will have the opportunity to hear Witi Ihimaera talk at the Vancouver Writers’ Festival, supported by a grant of $4000.

A number of playwrights have received grants from Creative New Zealand in recent funding rounds to participate in the 5th International Women Playwrights Conference in Athens, Greece in October. In this funding round, the Arts Board offered Wellington playwright Vivienne Plumb a $4274 grant to perform a live art lecture at the conference while the Pacific Islands Arts Committee offered Dianna Fuemana of Auckland a $5000 grant to perform Mapaki.

They join Jean Betts, Briar Grace-Smith and Sarah Delahunty, who received Arts Board funding to attend this conference in the first round of 1999/2000. More than 300 scripts from around the world were submitted from 30 countries. Only 80 scripts were chosen to be read and within those 80, only six one-woman shows were chosen to be performed, including Fuemana’s and Plumb’s.

International connections with Te Waka Toi and the Pacific Arts Committee

Briar Grace-Smith’s Purapurawhetu will be one of only 13 plays to be performed at the Athens conference after a showing in Canada. Grace-Smith was offered $20,000 from Te Waka Toi, the Maori arts board of Creative New Zealand, towards its staging in Athens.

Susan Wilson from New Zealand’s playwriting agency, Playmarket, said: “The international conference is an unequalled opportunity to gain courage and confidence, and provides a forum for ongoing contacts and networking experiences worldwide.”

Closer to home, the Pacific Islands Arts Committee set aside $60,000 towards funding support for artists to participate in the 8th Festival of Pacific Arts, to be held in Noumea, New Caledonia in October 2000. For the first time, 20 Pacific Islands artists will form a part of the official New Zealand delegation attending this prestigious festival of indigenous arts.

The future of the arts

The Arts Board was in the middle of its two-day meeting to decide on project funding when Prime Minister Helen Clark announced the Government’s $86 million funding package to the cultural sector. Creative New Zealand received a one-off sum of $20 million and in mid-June, it will be announcing its Future Strengths and Seriously Maori strategies, plus new initiatives supporting individual artists.


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