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International Buyers Go Wild Over New Zealand Work

10 March 2002

International producers, festival directors and venue managers “went wild” over the spotlight performances of the three New Zealand performing arts companies featured at the 5th International Australian Performing Arts Market in Adelaide, says Australian festival director Robyn Archer.

The biennial event is the only major international performing arts market in the Southern Hemisphere. Delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Europe, North America, South America and Asia attend the five-day event to buy performances that catch their attention.

Among the 40 spotlight performances were 25-minute excerpts from three New Zealand companies. Taki Rua Productions presented an excerpt from Witi Ihimaera’s play, Woman Far Walking; From Scratch an excerpt from Pacific Plate; and Black Grace Dance Company excerpts from its Best of New Works programme.

Robyn Archer, the highly regarded director of the Melbourne Arts Festival and Tasmania’s 10 Days on an Island festival, says New Zealand’s presence at the Performing Arts Market (from 25 February – 1 March) was “very impressive”.

“There was a real interest in understanding indigenous New Zealand work,” Ms Archer says. “Taki Rua’s showcase went wonderfully. People were bowled over by Black Grace and delegates stormed the New Zealand booth afterwards. And I particularly enjoyed From Scratch, who were inventive, quirky and very funny.”

Robyn Archer’s comments were echoed by a Scottish delegate at the Performing Arts Market, Mary Shields, who is hoping to put together a season of New Zealand work for the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

International presenter Tim Bostock, based in Hawaii, says New Zealand has a wealth of talent. “Certainly, more New Zealand work will be coming to Hawaii in the next few years. My challenge is how much we can fit into a single season.”

Creative New Zealand, which supported the three companies to showcase their work at the Performing Arts Market, also hosted a booth and produced a publication, Going Global, promoting 28 New Zealand performing arts companies with tour-ready repertoire. Cath Robinson, Creative New Zealand’s Arts Development Manager, says the New Zealand booth “sang with a sense of place”.

“Our aim was to create a lasting impression of the diversity, depth and quality of the work in New Zealand and feedback suggests we did that incredibly well,” she says. “There was a fantastic buzz.

“One international buyer said a strong passion threaded through the New Zealand work and this was reflected in all the activity at the booth. After each spotlight performance the booth was packed with interested international buyers. They got a real sense of the qualities that make New Zealand arts so distinctive, and a number of them used words like ‘extraordinary’ and ‘compelling’ to describe the New Zealand work they saw.”

New Zealand’s participation in the Performing Arts Market certainly made an impression on John Lambert. A major producer of international touring work in North America, he described New Zealand’s presence as “outstanding”.

Jessica Smith, General Manager of Black Grace Dance Company, says the Performing Arts Market was an important opportunity to show the company and its work to delegates from all over the world. “As a result, we’ve received significant interest from key presenters in North America, South America, Europe, Britain and Australia,” she says.

Phil Dadson of From Scratch says the group received a couple of “firm expressions of interest” with a lot of potential for other bookings. For Dadson, the Market provided valuable networking opportunities and insights into the international touring market. He also valued the supportive team at the New Zealand booth.

Taki Rua Productions, which is presenting Woman Far Walking during the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester in June, also valued the networking opportunities – particularly with Aboriginal performing artists and companies.

“I’m absolutely confident that all three companies will see festival bookings and dollar returns from this market,” Cath Robinson says.

This is the second time Creative New Zealand was formally invited by the Australia Council for the Arts to participate at the biennial Performing Arts Market.

After New Zealand’s participation in the 2000 event, three festival directors were brought to New Zealand to see more New Zealand work. After the 2002 event, twelve international directors were brought to New Zealand from Adelaide by Industry New Zealand to see a range of new New Zealand work, including shows from the 2002 New Zealand Festival. Among the twelve directors were Robyn Archer and Mary Shields.


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