“After two years of relative isolation, it was fantastic to get together and meet face to face, to catch up on what everyone has been up to and hear about their plans for the future,” says the Foundation’s director of arts Craig Cooper.
The Auckland reunion was also a chance for the Foundation to outline some of the work it has been doing in the arts space, as well as flag upcoming opportunities for arts practitioners.
A highlight of the reunion was the screening of some of the IN TOUCH Arts Commissions – three-minute digital works the Foundation commissioned to bridge the gap during COVID lockdowns and support artists to produce works that express a connection between New Zealand and Asia.
“We’ve seen these works on our laptops and phones but seeing them writ large on a screen was really impactful, Craig says.
“It was fascinating to hear the artists talk about their works and get an understanding of the circumstances under which they were made and the processes that went into making them. Some of the artists had to be quite ingenious to overcome obstacles presented by lockdowns.”
The reunion was also an opportunity for the Foundation’s research team to share some key findings of a report due for release next year. The report looks at the role the arts play in connecting New Zealand with Asia and how Asian art is increasingly being embraced by the New Zealand public. Those gathered in the room also had a chance to provide their own insights and observations that will contribute to the final report.
“We know that the arts can cross cultures and connect people, but we want to know some of the details – what makes Asian art so appealing to New Zealand audiences, which sectors are growing fastest, who is consuming it, and how might the arts and culture respond to increasing demand” says senior research adviser Jordan King.
Craig Cooper says the likes of the arts reunion are an important part of the Foundation's work.
"Events like this ensure the Foundation remains in touch with the people we have supported - we're looking to forge connections with arts practitioners that continue well beyond their initial grant or opportunity and bare fruit as their careers progress."
Since it was established in 1997, the Foundation’s arts programme has supported dozens of arts practitioners to attend residencies in Asia, taken curators and programmers on tours to connect with their Asian counterparts, and provided funding for arts projects, festivals, fairs and exhibitions that bring Asian art to New Zealand audiences.