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National scrapes bottom of barrel in Venice debate

20 June 2006

Hon Judith Tizard Associate Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage

National scrapes bottom of barrel in Venice debate

Katherine Rich called it a step in the right direction and Chris Finlayson publicly supports Labour's Arts policy – so why is National bagging Creative New Zealand's report on the Venice Biennale released weeks ago?

Today in Parliament the National Party did yet another flip-flop and criticised Creative New Zealand's evaluation of New Zealand's participation in the Venice Biennale.

"Back in 2001 Creative New Zealand committed to reviewing New Zealand's participation in the Biennale, the world's most prestigious showcase of contemporary art, after exhibiting in 2001, 2003 and 2005. And they've done that.

"This report is the start of the response to the concerns that have been raised.

"The report made a number of recommendations which have been adopted by Creative New Zealand's Council. This is now an operational matter for them and Chris Finlayson should know that as he was on Creative New Zealand's Board for six years and chaired it (not the Council as stated in his media release) for 3 years. He's simply grandstanding!

"Chris Finlayson is also suggesting that the selection process be changed. But the process it essentially the same now as it was when he was on that panel. Each time the final selection panel has included a mix of gallery directors, curators and visual arts professionals and academics.

The external report recommends retaining the current selection process.

"Finlayson also wants us to direct artists to include "a Kiwi flavour" in their work. This government is not about to start prescribing what should be included in artwork! The main requirement when selecting an artist for this kind of event is their ability to present a quality exhibition that suits this particular environment.

"I welcome Creative New Zealand's review of our participation. They have chosen not send an artist until 2009 and will use the next 2 years to refine the process, linking it better to other visual arts export strategies and leveraging more from the investment. This is sensible stuff."

ENDS

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