NZ performing arts practitioners to strengthen links with Asia

Ten New Zealand-based performing arts programmers are attending the Yokohama Performing Arts Meeting (YPAM) this month as part of a tour organised by the Asia New Zealand Foundation and Creative New Zealand.

The Foundation and Creative New Zealand are collaborating to help those who make programming decisions for venues and festivals learn about the newest trends in contemporary performing arts and explore ways to deepen New Zealand's arts connections with Asia. 

At YPAM, the participants will learn from and network with arts practitioners from Asia, helping them gain new insights, broaden their perspectives and build professional relationships.

Asia New Zealand Foundation director arts Craig Cooper says, “Asia’s art scene is vibrant and diverse, and we want to support these talented programmers from New Zealand make connections that will lead to closer ties between performing arts communities in New Zealand and Asia.

“YPAM is a well-known event for international collaboration and exchange, and we know our participants will make connections that will contribute to the growth of the New Zealand arts sector.

“By facilitating connections between New Zealand artists and their counterparts in Asia, we aim to nurture productive ground for cultural exchange and collaboration.”

The Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono is dedicated to supporting New Zealand arts practitioners, creating opportunities for them to connect with the Asian cultural landscape while nurturing the growth of their artistic endeavours. The upcoming Programmers Tour is designed to be a catalyst for artistic exchange and cross-cultural collaboration.

The trip is taking place between 10 and 17 December, 2023.

The 2023 participants are:

Ahi Karunaharan, director, playwright, performer

Ahi is a playwright, director, dramaturg, composer, and actor of Srilankan Tamil ancestry. He is the founder of Agaram Productions, a multi-award-winning production house that champions alternative narratives and otherness. He was awarded a New Zealand Arts Laureate for his contribution to the arts.

Bianca Hyslop, director, performer, choreographer

Bianca has worked specifically within the Māori contemporary dance sector both nationally and internationally having been involved in highly influential dance projects including indigenous development, cultural research and cross-cultural laboratories for interdisciplinary art makers. Bianca works in collaboration with designer Rowan Pierce. The pair have co-directed two full-length works ‘He Huia Kaimanawa’ and ‘Pōhutu’ both receiving critical acclaim.

Cat Ruka, executive director, Basement Theatre

Cat Ruka is an indigenous arts leader and advocate based in Auckland, New Zealand. She is the executive director of Basement Theatre, a live performance venue that supports urgent and adventurous work made by independent artists.

Charlie Unwin, artistic director, Dunedin Arts Festival

Charlie is the director of the Dunedin Arts Festival and Board Chair for PANNZ (Performing Arts Network of New Zealand). He has almost 30 years’ experience in the New Zealand performing arts and has delivered over 20 international festivals. He has also worked extensively as a producer, director, and actor.

Daniel Belton, artistic director, Good Company Arts

Daniel is a multi-media arts trailblazer with three decades of international collaboration combining performing arts, choreography, moving image, digital arts, couture, sound arts and design. He is an Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Choreographic Fellow, an Asia New Zealand Foundation arts programme alumni and an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Te Tumu Toi Arts Laureate.

Helaina Keeley, manager performing arts, Auckland Live

Helaina has over 25 years’ experience across the performing arts sector in New Zealand and is currently Manager, Performing Arts at Auckland Live. Previous roles include Senior Advisor, Theatre and Dance at Creative New Zealand, General Manager with Red Leap Theatre, as well as a career as a professional contemporary dancer.

Keagan Fransch, director, playwright, performer

Keagan Carr Fransch is a Zimbabwean-New Zealand actor, director, writer, dramaturg and script consultant. She is a graduate of the University of Waikato (Hamilton, NZ), Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School (Wellington, NZ), and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London, UK). She is based in Auckland, New Zealand.

Moss Patterson, artistic director, New Zealand Dance Company

Renowned Māori choreographer and NZ Arts Laureate, Moss Te Ururangi Patterson brings both integrity and humility to his choreographic practice. Moss is a proud mokopuna of Ngāti Tūwharetoa and has been recognized nationally and internationally for his work. Moss is the CEO & Artistic Director of The New Zealand Dance Company.

Shona McCullagh, artistic director, Auckland Arts Festival

Shona is the Artistic Director of Auckland Arts Festival. With a background in dance, film, theatre, arts education and digital installation she leads the programming for the annual festival held every March in New Zealand. She is an Arts Laureate for her work in dance and film and a Member of the NZ Order of Merit.

Sums Selvarajan, producer, SquareSums&co

Sums Selvarajan is an Auckland-based creative producer working in diverse roles in arts, projects and event management. As principal partner of SquareSums&Co., she applies her expertise to a wide portfolio of arts clients across the creative sector both locally and internationally, with a keen interest in supporting live performance, cross genre and cross culture works.

About YPAM (Yokohama International Performing Arts Meeting)

YPAM is a platform for international professionals to explore contemporary performing arts exchange through performance and networking opportunities.

Established in 1995 (as Tokyo Performing Arts Market) it is now internationally recognised as one of the most influential performing arts platforms in Asia and is one of the best ways to engage not only with the sector in Japan, but also with the Southeast Asian performing arts sector.

YPAM describes itself as a ‘meeting’ and not a ‘market’. Unlike many other international arts markets, the emphasis of this event is not ‘selling’ but rather on developing relationships and opportunities for collaboration. It may take a long-term commitment to fully realise the opportunities that YPAM and the wider Japanese arts sector present.

About Creative New Zealand:
Creative New Zealand encourages, promotes and supports the arts in New Zealand for the benefit of all New Zealanders through funding, capability building, our international programme and advocacy.

About the Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono

Established in 1994, the Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono is New Zealand’s leading authority on Asia. Its mission is to equip New Zealanders to thrive in Asia, by providing experiences and resources to build their knowledge, skills, and confidence. The Foundation’s activities cover more than 20 countries in Asia and are delivered through nine core programmes: arts, business, education, entrepreneurship, leadership, media, research, Track II diplomacy and sports.

For more information, contact:    
Graeme Acton
Manager, Asia Media Centre     
Telephone: 64 4 471 2320