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Auckland University - Focus On The Arts

11 July 2000


The state of the creative and performing arts in New Zealand will be scrutinised at the University of Auckland's annual Winter Lecture series starting on July 18.

The six speakers include the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, in her capacity as Minister for the Arts, Culture and Heritage. At the final lecture on August 22 she will be discussing "The arts and public policy".

The Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Film Commission, Ruth Harley, will be talking about "The culture industries".

The other speakers are well-known practitioners in the arts: curator and critic Dr Wystan Curnow, editor and composer William Dart, writer and theatre expert Dr Murray Edmond, and Maori film-maker Lisa Reihana.

The lectures "will help to bring us all up to date" on the arts in New Zealand, says series organiser Dr Roger Horrocks.

"A collective examination of this topic seems particularly important at a time when public attitudes and public policy are changing. The country is rethinking its future directions under the pressure of economic problems and rapid technological advances, and talking about the need for our culture to become more alert and innovative.

"Speakers will be tackling some current controversies in the arts, such as Dr Wystan Curnow who will be looking at the consequences of the populist, market-driven approach to the arts that has dominated the last decade.

"Another lively area of discussion is postcolonialism: how successfully New Zealand has come to terms with its colonial beginnings and what this implies for today's bi-cultural and multi-cultural society."

Issues such as audiences, training, "surviving as an artist", changing cultural dynamics, new media, and "popular" versus "high" culture will also be covered.

The series is extremely topical given the Government's recent injection of extra funding into the arts, says Dr Horrocks, and the public discussion about the "Heart of the Nation" review.

"It is also timely as the University prepares to launch its School of Creative and Performing Arts, based in the former TVNZ studios in Shortland Street. The School represents a big vote of confidence in the future of the arts in New Zealand by the University and by those citizens who have made major donations to the project."




Bill Williams
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Tuesdays, 1-2pm, Maidment Theatre, 8 Alfred Street

State of the arts: The creative and performing arts in New Zealand today.

18 July Dr Wystan Curnow, University of Auckland: High culture now!
The discussion of the arts in recent years has been so dominated by issues of audience that the very purpose of the arts seems to have been distorted and simplified in the process. When many believe that "growing audience" is their chief purpose, the fate of the arts becomes indistinguishable from that of entertainment. In 1973 Dr Curnow published "High culture in a small province", an essay concerning the culture of culture in New Zealand. The passage of time has not only maintained but increased the relevance of some of its ideas to the state of the arts, and so he was invited to re-visit it for this series. High culture now! is the result.

Biographical note
Dr Wystan Curnow has contributed to and commented on the state of the visual and the literary arts in this country for more than two decades. He has curated or co-curated some 20 exhibitions, in New York, London, Amsterdam, Sydney as well as New Zealand. Three collections of his poetry have been published. Prolific as an art critic, he is known particularly for his writing on CHECK leading New Zealand artists Colin McCahon, Len Lye, and Billy Apple. In the 1980s he was at the forefront of new developments, co-editing the literary magazine Splash which introduced "L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry" to local readers and he was a contributor to the influential And, the first magazine to apply post-structuralist ideas to New Zealand writing and culture. He also founded Artspace, the first and most prominent publicly-funded contemporary art spaces in the country.

25 July Dr William Dart, composer, broadcaster and editor: Music in New Zealand.
New Zealand music has a tremendous potential, nurtured by the many musicians and composers who have contributed to this field over the last few decades. As a country, we have been too slow in acknowledging and honouring those who have gone before in all of the many genres of Kiwi music. It says much that major achievements like Jenny McLeod's Earth and Sky and Patrick Flynn's score for Don't Let It Get You still languish without a CD release. It is by coming to terms with this splendid past that we will be fully prepared to take on the challenge of a truly Pacific music for the new millennium. This lecture will be illustrated by a wealth of extracts from interviews and musical material gathered over the last 20 years.

Biographical note
Over the last two decades, William Dart has established himself as a leading commentator on music in this country with his regular columns in the Listener and various programmes for Concert FM. These programmes include New Horizons, devoted to rock and other contemporary music, and New Music Survey which surveys recent New Zealand composition. In 1988 he founded Music in New Zealand, which he is still editing, and currently lectures in music at the University of Waikato. In 1997 he was awarded an MNZM for services to arts and music.

1 August Dr Murray Edmond (University of Auckland): The real magic in the magic real: Recent New Zealand drama.
The growth of a local stage drama will be discussed in relation to the cultural nationalism of the last 20 years and the neo-colonialism of the global society. How far do the anxieties and dreams of colonial society persist in Aotearoa? This lecture will look at some notable examples of play-writing in New Zealand in the 1990s in relation to the international mode of "magic realism" and will consider the implications for our so-called post-colonial society. The plays will include Whatungarognaro, Think of a Garden, Lovelock's Dream Run, Waiora, and Eugenia.

Biographical note
Murray Edmond teaches drama and English at the University of Auckland. He worked extensively through the 1990s as a dramaturge of new New Zealand plays, including Lovelock's Dream Run and Krishnan's Dairy for example. In the 1970s he began professional theatre work with the Living Theatre Troupe and Theatre Action (New Zealand) and the Half Moon Theatre (London), and in the 1980s he started a small touring company, Town and Country Players, performing in rural areas. His doctoral thesis, "Old comrades of the future", looked at experimental theatre in New Zealand from 1962 to 1982. Murray Edmond is also one of New Zealand's best-known poets and has written eight volumes of poetry and edited three anthologies.

8 August Dr Ruth Harley, Chief Executive Officer, NZ Film Commission: The culture industries.

15 August Lisa Reihana, Manukau Institute of Technology: Skinflicks: Film and urban Maori arts.
Lisa Reihana's talk will raise a variety of current issues in the visual arts in Aotearoa/New Zealand, related to our changing ideas about who we are and how we are coming to terms with profound social and technological changes. To mention two of these contemporary issues:
(1) How do labels operate in the art world? How fluid are categories such as "film", "visual arts", "Maori art", or "New Zealand art"? There are obvious advantages to having categories which provide clear career paths and places to exhibit art — but those established categories can become an obstacle for artists today who experiment and operate across boundaries. This can be a particular problem for a small country — or are we just not trying hard enough today to think outside the old frames?
(2) Today there are increasing opportunities for an artist to think globally, to establish links with artists in other countries, and to exhibit work internationally. Art is now a central means of communication globally. What happens when we take local art — "Maori art" or "New Zealand art" — to those overseas contexts? And are our artists helped and encouraged to take as much advantage of the new global opportunities as artists in other countries?

Biographical note
Lisa Reihana has been an important artist and innovator in the field of moving images. After graduating from Elam she has created influential films such as Wog Features and contributed some striking installations to Te Papa. She is a lecturer in the Moving Image Department of the Manukau School of Visual Arts, and was recently at the Sydney Biennale to do a series of performances (with Pacific Sisters) and to install a work at the
entrance of the Museum of Contemporary Art. Lisa Reihana has championed new ideas in many areas of the arts including animation, the digital media, the dialogue between popular culture and the visual arts, and new directions in Maori art.

22 August Rt Hon Helen Clark, Prime Minister and Minister for the Arts, Culture and Heritage: The arts and public policy (followed by panel discussion to wrap up the series, 2-3pm).

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