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Spotlight on NZ performing arts in Australia

12 December 2003

Spotlight to shine on New Zealand performing arts at Australian market

Three performing arts companies - the Naked Samoans, Strike and Raewyn Hill's Soap Box Productions - will feature New Zealand work at the 6th Australian Performing Arts Market, the largest performing arts market in the southern hemisphere, with Creative New Zealand support.

To be held in Adelaide from 23 - 27 February 2004, the biennial market is a vital platform for New Zealand performing artists wanting to make their mark on the international stage.

More than 350 producers, festival directors and venue managers from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Europe, North America, South America and Asia are expected to attend the five-day event. They'll be at the Arts Market to buy shows that catch their attention while performing arts companies from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore will be there to sell their shows through the spotlight performances and networking opportunities.

Among the 37 spotlight performances will be 25-minute excerpts from the three New Zealand companies. Comedy theatre group the Naked Samoans will present an excerpt from Naked Samoans Go Home; Soap Box Productions will present excerpts from two works by choreographer Raewyn Hill, Night and White; and percussion group Strike will present extracts from its current show, Strike Unplugged.

For the third time, Creative New Zealand is working in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts to support a New Zealand presence. Ron Layne, Manager, Audience and Market Development at the Australia Council for the Arts, in New Zealand this week to meet with the three spotlight companies, says there was a "real buzz" about the New Zealand work at the 2002 event.

"The delegates were bowled over by the distinctiveness of the New Zealand work," he says. "There's a huge international interest in the contemporary arts of the Pacific region and it makes absolute sense for Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific countries to work together and promote the region."

Along with the spotlight performances, Creative New Zealand will host a booth at the Arts Market and produce a publication, promoting 30 artists/companies with ready-to-tour repertoire.

Cath Cardiff, Projects Manager, Audience and Marketing Development at Creative New Zealand, says the Arts Market is about making connections, building ongoing relationships and opening doors.

"We really value our partnership with our counterparts across the Tasman," Ms Cardiff says. "This event is a wonderful opportunity for New Zealand's performing arts sector to sell their vibrant and compelling work."

The most tangible outcome of New Zealand's participation in the 2002 Arts Market was the "flood of interest, inquiries and bookings" for performances and tours by New Zealand performing arts companies.

As a direct result of the 2002 spotlight performances, Taki Rua Productions and its production of Witi Ihimaera's Woman Far Walking represented New Zealand as part of the 2003 Commonwealth Games celebrations in Manchester while Black Grace Dance Company was booked for a 13-centre tour of Australia, the prestigious Holland Dance Festival, and a tour of the Netherlands - many of these performances resulting in standing ovations and critical acclaim.

Tanea Heke, who attended the 2002 Arts Market as project manager for Taki Rua Productions, says the exposure and networking opportunities the event provided were invaluable.

"It was so much more than I anticipated," she says. "It was a fantastic opportunity, the best thing you can do to get a sense of the international market, reach international buyers and meet international colleagues."

Ms Cardiff says that each of the companies chosen to perform at the 2004 market reflects New Zealand's distinctive and innovative talent.

"We're extremely excited about showcasing their work to these key international presenters," she said. "These people are searching for that special must-have quality, the point of difference that makes a performance stand out above the rest. For New Zealand, the freshness and diversity of our work, and its sense of place in the Pacific, are among our strongest selling points.

"The enormous interest in New Zealand work also means that increasingly, international directors and producers are travelling on to New Zealand from Adelaide to sample more New Zealand work."


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