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Former arts boss urges change to Venice criteria

Chris Finlayson MP
National Party Associate Arts Spokesman

01 June 2006

Former arts boss urges change to Venice criteria

National Party Associate Arts spokesman and former Arts Board chairman Chris Finlayson is pushing for a formal change to the selection criteria used when deciding what to send to the Venice Biennale.

“When we launched the Kiwi campaign at Venice in 2001, we made sure it was a showcase for New Zealand art. I don’t think you can say that about last year’s choice.”

Mr Finlayson is commenting on yesterday’s report on the future of the Venice Biennale, which failed to address the key issue of whether ‘et al.’ was the right choice in 2005.

“In 2001 we sent a couple of promising Ngai Tahu artists. We gave our contribution a real New Zealand flavour. Since then something’s gone awry with Creative New Zealand’s selection process.

“The Biennale is a superb platform to promote something uniquely Kiwi with the contemporary arts community. But when you’re spending taxpayer money, you have a duty to make sure the selected artist is prepared to promote their art and New Zealand in a more general sense.

“As it stands, Creative New Zealand does not appear to have learnt from its mistakes.

“While I am pleased New Zealand’s involvement at Venice is set to continue, I believe it is essential for Creative New Zealand to go back to approach we used at the first Biennale.

“The Prime Minister, who is also Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage, should urge them to do just that,” says Mr Finalyson.


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