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New Zealand Future at Venice Art Biennale

Wednesday 31 May 2006

New Zealand Future at Venice Art Biennale

New Zealand will return to the Venice Art Biennale in 2009 as part of a wider international market development strategy, Creative New Zealand announced today.

Chief executive Elizabeth Kerr said Creative New Zealand would seek strong New Zealand partners within government agencies and the art gallery sector. It would focus on raising additional patron and sponsorship income, and it would link participation in the Venice Art Biennale to the development of other international market development initiatives for the visual arts.

"The Venice Art Biennale is regarded as the most important contemporary visual arts event on the international calendar. In 2001, Creative New Zealand, in partnership with the arts sector, embarked on an ambitious project for New Zealand to make its mark at this prestigious event.

"I am proud of our effort. With a budget small by international standards, we have produced three top quality exhibitions and been competitive in areas like international media coverage and visitor numbers.

"With this in mind, the Council of Creative New Zealand has agreed that it will support a presence for our contemporary visual arts at future Venice Art Biennales," she said.

Participation in the Venice Art Biennale was an invitation extended to New Zealand by the Italian government and represented a government to government arrangement.

"The Council is mindful that this should be integrated into our international market development strategy. We will also seek increased support from other New Zealand organisations with interests in the promotion of New Zealand's arts and culture offshore.

"Preparations are likely to include sponsoring selected New Zealand curators and galleries at the 2007 Venice Art Biennale as a professional development opportunity and a way of maintaining and building on the networks already established."

Ms Kerr said the decision was informed by an evaluation report of New Zealand's participation at the last three Venice Art Biennale conducted by Sydney-based company SGS: Economics and Planning.

The report recommends a more developed approach to future participation in the Venice Art Biennale with stronger partnerships, a greater investment and ideally, a mix of other activity in the international promotion of New Zealand's visual arts to leverage off the Venice event.

It says New Zealand should continue to have a presence at the Biennale but that changes should be made to ensure maximum return on the investment. It also recommends that the future role of Creative New Zealand is explored in relation to the possibility of other partners playing a greater part.

"The report shows considerable benefits to New Zealand visual arts from taking part in this event and commends what Creative New Zealand and the project teams were able to achieve with limited resources. In a number of areas, like opportunities for New Zealand artists in major international events and galleries and coverage in prestigious art journals and publications the report shows clear positive trends.

"It is important that we maintain the momentum in order to continue to develop these benefits of the work we have put into attending the Venice Art Biennale.

"The report also gives us some useful advice on how to sustain future participation and that is advice that Creative New Zealand intends to work with over the next few years."

Ms Kerr said New Zealand's creative sector was experiencing unprecedented international exposure and Creative New Zealand wanted to look at sustainable ways in which to capitalise on that interest.

A copy of the report is available on the Creative New Zealand website at


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