Contemporary Asian arts
projects receive funding boost

Six arts projects which will challenge New Zealanders’ perceptions of Asian cultures have been awarded grants by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

The projects include a South Asian immersive extravaganza of singing, dancing and movie-making magic; a collaboration between New Zealand’s and China’s longest running contemporary dance companies; and a large-scale light installation from a Pakistani-American artist. 

Each year the Foundation selects several arts projects to support which have the potential to significantly grow New Zealanders’ understanding of Asian art and culture.

“New Zealand can often be quite transactional in its view of Asia, but arts and culture are a way of understanding each other at a deeper level,” says the Foundation’s executive director Simon Draper.

“Watching a show, reading a book, listening to an album – they’re all ways for us to grow our confidence and awareness of the complexities of Asian cultures and how they compare to our own.” 

The chosen works also include four writers in conversation about Asian culture and issues at the Auckland Writers Festival, an Auckland Photography Festival exhibition featuring Japan’s famous deer of Nara and an East Meets West performance at Wellington’s Chinese New Year festival.  

They offer a range of experiences, from critical conversations on culture to celebrations of traditional art forms, often blurring the two. The projects are also diverse in their mediums and the cultures they draw from and give audiences across the country a chance to experience Asian arts.   

“We want Asian art to be an everyday offering for New Zealanders engaging with art and performance – it shouldn’t be something exotic or different, it should be something we expect from our broader culture,” Mr Draper says. ABOUT

About the projects

East Meets West

Who: Asian Events Trust
What: Variety performance of New Zealand and Chinese performers at Wellington Chinese New Year Festival (1-11 February).

East Meets West performance is February 9, 7pm to 9pm, TSB Arena, gold coin entry. The show is an important part of the Wellington Chinese New Year Festival programme and is made up of two parts: East features international performing artists from Jinan, Shandong province in China and West featuring some of Aotearoa’s most respected dancers and artists, including: Daniel Belton and Good Company Arts; Janessa Dufty and Simon Kaan, Touch Compass Dance Company, featuring Yung Chen and Julie van Renen; and Footnote New Zealand Dance. 


Who: Footnote New Zealand Dance with Guangdong Modern Dance Company (China)
What: National tour, February 15 to March 3, 2019

Hemispheres is a collaboration between the longest-running contemporary dance companies in New Zealand and in China. The companies will tour the show during Chinese New Year celebrations. The show features three works: Mass Solitude, created and choreographed by Sarah Foster-Sproull and performed by both companies; excerpts from Guangdong Modern Dance Company’s The Spring Tide, choreographed by Taiwanese artist WU Chien-Wei; and Footnote’s Elliptical Fictions, choreographed by Zahra Killeen-Chance.

Planet Deer

Who: Auckland Festival of Photography Trust
What: Exhibition during the Auckland Festival of Photography, May 29 to June 19.  

Japanese artist Yoko Ishii will travel to New Zealand with her exhibition Planet Deer, featuring the famous deer of Nara, Japan. The exhibition will feature outdoor lightboxes, and Ishii will be a part of panels and talks during the festival. 

Contact: Festival Office, 09 307 7055

Writers at the 2019 Auckland Writers Festival 

Who: Auckland Writers Festival
What: Talks at the Auckland Writers Festival, May 14 to 19 

The Asia New Zealand Foundation grant will go towards hosting four Asia-focussed writers at the festival, each of whom are making a significant impact on the international literary stage. The writers will be announced when the festival programme is due to released on March 13. 

Shimmering Mirage 

Who: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū
What: Art installation, part of the Wheriko - Brilliant! exhibition, from May 17 

Pakistani-American contemporary artist Anila Quayyum Agha’s work Shimmering Mirage will be presented at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.  Quayyum Agha’s work examines issues of global politics, cultural identity, mass media and gender roles.

My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak

Who: Silo Theatre Trust
What: Theatre, October 21 to December 14

My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak is a major new commission by Sri Lankan New Zealand artist Ahi Karunaharan. With an entirely South Asian cast of actors and musicians, this work will also engage with many of Auckland’s extensive South Asian and community dance troupes.