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Major NZ exhibition to open in New York

Major exhibition of New Zealand and Pacific art to open in New York

The first major exhibition in the United States of contemporary art from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands will open in New York in February 2004 with support from the Arts Board of Creative New Zealand.

Announcing the grants this week, Arts Board Chair Murray Shaw said the proposed exhibition, entitled Pasifika, was an excellent opportunity to develop new audiences and markets for New Zealand art.

The Asia Society was offered a $25,000 grant towards the curatorial development of Pasifika. The exhibition will be jointly curated by Melissa Chiu, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Asia Society Museum, and a New Zealand curator.

The Asia Society Museum is devoted exclusively to the art of Asia and the Pacific, and its exhibitions are regularly reviewed in The New York Times and other national press. The Museum also plans to develop a schedule of public programmes featuring artists, art critics and academics to complement the exhibition. “The potential benefits of this exhibition to New Zealand are huge,” Mr Shaw said, “and the Arts Board was delighted to be able to support the research phase of this project.”

He said the exhibition recognised New Zealand’s leading role in the development of Pacific arts and would explore current issues, offering a counter-narrative to utopian images of the Pacific Islands as paradise.

In this funding round, the Arts Board received 563 applications for project funding seeking more than $9.3 million. A total of $2.64 million was offered to 181 projects. Among these were a number of international projects and Mr Shaw said that increasingly, New Zealand artists were presenting innovative, excellent work to an international audience. New Zealand innovation and excellence will be to the fore at the prestigious Prague Quadrennial, PQ 03, in June 2003 with two projects – both supported by the Arts Board.

With a $20,000 grant, the Working Party for PQNZ 03 will co-ordinate and curate an exhibition of nine emerging and established New Zealand theatre designers. This exhibition will compete against more than 60 countries from around the world. At the previous Prague Quadrennial in 1999, the New Zealand exhibition received the Unesco Prize for Originality and Creativity.

The Working Party hopes to tour the exhibition nationally on its return from Prague. A second grant, offered in the previous project funding round, supported Wellington designers Doritah Hannah and Sven Mehzoud to lead a team of international artists in the creation of the Quadrennial’s centrepiece exhibition.

Mr Shaw said the Art Board’s initial investment in a project often had spin-offs further down the track. For instance, the Board has provided ongoing support to the Australia Centre for Craft and Design for New Zealand content in its highly regarded Object magazine.

Along with a grant of $19,000 to continue featuring New Zealand craft and design in its magazine, the Australia Centre for Craft and Design was offered a $4000 grant to conduct preliminary research into a major exhibition of New Zealand work to tour Australia in 2004.

Mr Shaw said along with project funding, the Arts Board developed special initiatives to help build audiences and markets for New Zealand work.

“Increasingly, doors are opening for New Zealand artists in Australia but we’re also keen to develop opportunities for artists in Asia,” he said. An invitation to Creative New Zealand to participate in the Second Asian Arts Market, to be held in Singapore in June 2003, was the direct result of New Zealand’s outstanding success at the 5th International Australian Performing Arts Festival in Adelaide earlier this year.

Consequently, the Arts Board agreed to set aside $35,000 to support participation by one New Zealand performing arts company at the Second Asian Arts Market and a New Zealand booth, hosted by Creative New Zealand.

Another Creative New Zealand initiative that has reaped benefits for artists is Wild Opera, an initiative aimed at ensuring more professional productions of New Zealand-composed opera. One of the works presented earlier this year at the Wild Opera Showcase, Michael Williams and Alan Riach’s Prodigal Child, will be developed and produced at the 2003 Taranaki Arts Festival, with a $35,000 grant from the Arts Board.

Mr Shaw said that with each project round, there was a growing number of applications from new festivals. At the same time, the amount requested from established festivals was also increasing.

“The Arts Board is committed to supporting festivals for a number of reasons,” Mr Shaw said. “They provide opportunities for artists to create and present new New Zealand work; they build audiences and enable New Zealanders to experience high-quality arts; and they can be excellent cultural tourism events.

“However, the number of new and existing festivals applying for funding is putting extreme pressure on our project funding levels.”

Among the festivals offered grants are: the Bay of Islands Arts Festival ($10,000); the national Sheilah Winn Festival of Shakespeare in Secondary Schools ($10,000); the 2003 Laugh! Festival ($50,000); the 2003 Christchurch Arts Festival ($90,000); the Dowse Art Museum’s biennial 2003 Respect festival ($22,500); the Auckland Secondary Schools Maori and Pacific Islands Cultural Festival ($20,000); and the International Festival of the Arts (grants totalling $125,000).
In this funding round, two bursaries and a scholarship were also announced.

Kate Duignan, a Wellington writer currently based in Edinburgh, received the $18,000 Louis Johnson New Writers’ Bursary towards writing a second novel following on from her first novel, Breakwater(Victoria University Press) Richard Reeve, a Dunedin writer, received the $20,000 Todd New Writers’ Bursary towards completing a second book of poems following on from his first collection, Dialectic of Mud (Auckland University Press) Raewyn Hill, a Wellington choreographer, received the 2002 Tup Lang Scholarship, aimed at encouraging choreography in New Zealand contemporary dance.

Applications to the next funding round of Creative New Zealand close on 28 February 2003. Copies of the Funding Guide: Nga Putea 2002-2003 are available from Creative New Zealand offices or can be downloaded from the publications page of its website (

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