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Record Number Of Nominees Celebrated, $90,000 Awarded: 2024 FAME Award Recipients Announced

The 2024 FAME Mid-Career Awards, an annual initiative in its third year aimed at honouring and supporting outstanding talent in the performing arts community of Aotearoa, have announced this year’s recipients. Amid a record-breaking 72 nominees, six remarkable individuals have been recognised for their exceptional contributions to the professional performing arts in Aotearoa.

The FAME Mid-Career Awards, administered by PANNZ (The Performing Arts Network New Zealand) in partnership with The FAME Trust and the Acorn Foundation, select performing artists across Contemporary Dance, Classical Music, and Theatre, and last year added two awards for Production, Design and Technical professionals. Each award carries a value of NZ$15,000.

"In previous years we have presented three artist awards, but this year following the large number of quality nominations we were delighted that The FAME Trust and the Acorn Foundation generously agreed to recognise an additional artist, increasing the overall prize pool from NZ$75,000 to NZ$90,000.” said PANNZ Chief Executive, Louise Gallagher.

“The recipients span diverse cultures and backgrounds and have left indelible marks on the performing arts landscape. From pioneering paths for women in classical composition to nurturing the next generation of Pacific artists, their contributions extend far beyond the stage.” Gallagher shared.

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Mid-Career Performing Artist Recipients:
CLAIRE COWAN Claire is a pioneering New Zealand composer, breaking barriers in classical composition for both stage and screen. Founder of the Blackbird Ensemble, she blends genres and creates engaging visual performances and was the first woman to receive commissions for ballets from the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

BIANCA HYSLOP A prominent figure in Māori Contemporary Dance, Bianca has contributed significantly to the sector for over 15 years. nationally and internationally. Alongside her artistic pursuits, she recently completed a degree in Te Reo Māori me ōna tikanga, further enriching her contributions to the performing arts community.

MALIA JOHNSTON Co-founder of Movement of the Human (MOTH), Malia's work is characterised by cross-form collaborations, frequently integrating artists from diverse practices. Her repertoire, from Meremere to BELLE, exemplifies innovative storytelling. Johnston's impact extends internationally, with recent collaborations like IMPRINT touring Europe with the NZ Dance Company.

ANAPELA POLATA’IVAO This Samoan-born director and performer has a wealth of experience in both stage and screen. She won Best Actress in the 2018 Wellington Theatre Awards for her role in Tusiata Avia’s Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, which she also directed. In 2020 she made history as the first Samoan woman to have directed a show off-Broadway when Wild Dogs made its New York debut. Polata’ivao also mentors emerging artists, leaving a lasting impact on the Pacific arts community.

Mid-Career Production Technical Professional Recipients:
NATASHA JAMES A skilled Lighting Designer and Production Manager, Natasha boasts a 24-year career enriched by collaborations with renowned companies like Marrageku Dance Company and Tawata Productions. Her work spans continents, from Australia to Europe, with notable highlights including her role as a founding member of Muscle Mouth. Currently, she serves as Production Manager for Tawata Productions and Production and Technical Director for Kia Mau Festival.

POSENAI MAVAEGA MNZM. Posenai has worked in Pacific Underground (PU) - since 1993 - writing, recording, touring, producing, and music directing in theatres, concerts and festivals throughout the Pacific. His credits include music direction and sound design for notable productions such as "Dawn Raids" and "Sons." Previously, he served as head venue tech at Glen Innes Arts Centre Te Oro, supporting local artists and community events. Po’s remains dedicated to nurturing talent, mentoring young artists, and advancing Pacific Underground's mission.

James Wilson, a former PANNZ board member and soon-to-be interim Senior Manager of Arts Development at CNZ, emphasised the importance of these awards in recognising the pivotal mid-career stage. He highlighted the generosity within the sector and the crucial role these awards play in not only providing financial support but also boosting confidence and visibility.

Past recipients of The FAME Mid-Career Awards, including Rodney Bell, Rowan Pierce, Ben Crowder, and Tānemahuta Gray, have spoken of the profound impact of the award on their careers, emphasising the importance of recognition and support in the arts community.

The Fame Trust supports awards for both emerging and established artists as well as national organizations like NZSO, Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School, and NZ School of Dance. Local Tauranga groups like Opus Orchestra, Youth Philharmonic, and BOP Symphonia also benefit from their funding. The Acorn Foundation is the local community foundation for the Western Bay of Plenty, which enables generous people to make a bigger impact in their communities, forever. Since it was established in 2003, Acorn has distributed over $16.5 million to local and national causes important to their donors.

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