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Lowdown: GLAM Leader On The Move

16 Nov 2023

Bright new opportunities, major successes and mysteries solved in The Big Idea's round up of the big happenings in the creative world.

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Eloise Wallace. Photo: Supplied.

Wallace on the move

One of New Zealand's top GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums) sector voices is pulling up stumps in Gisborne and moving South.

Co-Chair of Museums Aotearoa - New Zealand’s independent national body for museums and galleries - Eloise Wallace has been named as the Director of Te Unua Museum of Southland, a new organisation to leave her mark on.  

It's part of Invercargill City Council’s Project 1225, which will see the creation of three key cultural facilities in Invercargill. The project also includes the construction of a new specialist tuatara enclosure at the animal reserve within Queens Park, and a museum collection storage facility at Tisbury.

Wallace states “The opportunity to develop a new museum doesn’t come along every day, so it’s a real privilege to be part of the team taking on the challenge of creating an innovative, world-class museum experience in Invercargill – for the people of Southland, and for visitors from all over the world.

"Following this project from afar, I was really drawn to the aspirational community vision for what a museum could and should be in Southland.

“Having spent most of my career working in regional New Zealand, and knowing the innovation, creativity, and ‘can-do’ attitude that comes with living and working in the regions, I wasn’t surprised that Southlanders had a big, bold vision for their new museum. 

"I’m looking forward to bringing my experience and skills to this challenge, but more importantly becoming part of the community, and working together to create a new facility that celebrates and shares the stories of Southland – past, present, and future – in a unique and inspiring way."

Wallace's impressive CV over more than two decades in the Museum and Heritage sector has seen her work at Imperial War Museum London and spending the last eight years at the Director of Tairāwhiti Museum & Art Gallery,

As the position is vacant, it's one she recommends.

She wrote on social media "I was a first-time museum director when I came into this role, and that's the great opportunity here for anyone thinking it could be the right time in their career to make the step up into leading a cultural institution in 2024. It's definitely challenging but very rewarding and you'll be working with a supportive board and fantastic colleagues.

It's a role where you need to have - and be willing to build on - a wide range of skills across the breadth of museum activities - in one day you could be giving a speech, fixing the AV, writing a policy, doing the accounts, designing an exhibition, preparing a media release and moving the chairs.

I appreciate the position profile might look a little overwhelming, but as long as you have some experience, are keen to learn and feel like you would be a good fit I'd really encourage you to apply."

Wallace takes up her new gig early in the new year.

Meek inherits the chair

Brendan Meek. Photo: Supplied.

A change at the top of the New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) with Brendan Meek named as the new Chair of the Board of the New Zealand Dance Advancement Trust with immediate effect.

Greg Innes has held the role of Interim Chair since 2022 (which is a long time to hold an interim role) and states “Brendan has been an integral part of the Board over the past two years. His deep understanding of the Company’s goals and his passion for the arts make him the ideal candidate to lead us into the next chapter for NZDC.”

Innes will continue to serve on the board until early 2024 to ensure a smooth transition for the incoming Chair.

Having held senior leadership roles at Cirque du Soleil, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Meek brings a wealth of experience as a company manager across a diverse range of positions spanning dancing to technical production and organisational leadership. 

Of his appointment, Meek said, “I'm looking forward to being the Chair, where I can help to carry on the great work our Board has done so far. We're mindful of last year's successful CNZ Toi Uru Kahikatea funding application as this empowers the Company to move ahead and to continue to succeed. 

"With the recent addition of NZ Arts Laureate Moss Te Ururangi Patterson (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) as our Chief Executive/Artistic Director, we are well positioned for The New Zealand Dance Company’s future success."

Success in short order 

Just Kidding I Actually Love You. Photo: Supplied.

The conclusion of the Show Me Shorts Film Festival is being trumpeted by organisers as a success. While the final numbers aren't in yet, they confidently state "That people came out in big numbers and we smashed our pre-pandemic audience records!"  

One thing that is known for sure is the winner of the Show Me Shorts 2023 People’s Choice Award.

Writer and Director Anna Rose Duckworth has been rewarded for premiering her cringe comedy Just Kidding I Actually Love You at the festival - playing to great reactions across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch's opening night along with the Sampler screenings.

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Anna Rose Duckworth with her medal. Photo: Supplied.

Duckworth - an alum of Toipoto's Creative Career Essentials programme - presented the film and was part of the Christchurch Filmmaker Talk where she participated in a lively Q & A. 

It was clearly a hit with audiences nationwide, bringing an identifiably quirky approach - with Rhiannon McCall singled out for her hilarious performance.

Duckworth enthuses “Our team is thrilled for our film to win People's Choice! We were totally floored by the overwhelmingly positive response to this film and all the kind and thoughtful feedback! 

"It is a rare joy to be able to share a film with live audiences - hearing the audible cringing, laughter and the awws was such an honour."

Ali Burns was co-writer for the short - produced by Casey Latch and Mikaela Rüegg - which has also been shown at Bend Film Festival in Oregon.

Event full result

Taranaki Arts Festival Trust team accepting their NZEA award. Photo: Supplied.  

Up against major occasions like Ed Sheeran concerts and the Women's Rugby World Cup, the creative community held its own at the New Zealand Events Association’s (NZEA) annual Event Awards in Christchurch.

The Centuria Taranaki Garden Festival run by Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (TAFT) claimed the highly sought-after title of New Zealand's favourite event ahead of 39 other events including the Pasifika Festival and Field Days.

Elaine Linnell, NZEA’s General Manager remarks “Under TAFT’s management, the festival has developed a successful ticketing system, large sponsorship base and an inspiring and diverse events programme. It has substantially increased its national audience as well as breaking into the international market.

“The festival is one of only a handful in New Zealand that were able to present during the COVID pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 and was particularly successful in changing its marketing strategy to attract local attendees to replace those unable to attend due to travel restrictions and health concerns. 

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Bread & Circus World Buskers Festival. Photo: Supplied.

"Despite a tumultuous couple of years, the festival has not only survived but thrived, retaining an incredibly loyal base of partners and attendees and attracting new audiences and supporters.”

The 10-day spring festival showcases more than 40 of Taranaki’s unique gardens, attracting 73,523 garden visits this year across the 42 featured gardens.

The Best Arts or Cultural Event 2023 was claimed by Christchurch creative institution Bread & Circus - the World Buskers Festival put on by Strut & Fret NZ, while Experience Wellington shared the Best Local Government Event for   
Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings at City Gallery Wellington with the Flavours of Plenty Festival.

Opera overload

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Mansfield Park. Image: Supplied.

New Zealand Opera's sweeping change is ushering in a new programme for 2024.

With incoming General Director Brad Cohen at the helm, the organisation's season launch has put an eclectic trilogy of productions into the spotlight.

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NZ Opera's 2024 season launch. Image: Supplied.

It starts with the New Zealand premiere of Mansfield Park -  based on the Jane Austen novel and set to music by 21st Century English composer Jonathan Dove - will see the operatic talents of locals Robert Tucker, Joanna Foote, Kristin Darragh and Joel Amosa in April in Wellington and Auckland.

Next, local director Simon Phillips tours Rossini's comedy Le comte Ory with baritone Moses MacKay among the ensemble cast in June to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

And finally, rounding out the season in September is the mafia-themed production of Verdi's Rigoletto in Auckland, featuring New Zealand superstar tenor Amitai Pati - like MacKay, of Sol3 Mio fame.

Cohen declares, "Our program highlights the reality that opera isn’t for just one type of audience. We’re offering refreshed repertoire choices for New Zealand audiences to enjoy next year. The operas in our 2024 lineup are sung in three different languages and span genres; one is modern, one is a classic, and some unfold locally while others transport us abroad. All three productions offer multiple entry points for audiences to connect, engage with, and be captivated by the magic of opera.

“Our 2024 season heralds a bright future for NZ Opera as we continue to create inclusive opera that enriches our nation’s cultural tapestry, provides growth and professional opportunities for our world-class singers, creatives, and technicians, and celebrates the dynamic art form we love with a distinctly Aotearoa New Zealand flair."

Rigoletto. Image: Supplied.

In addition to the three productions unveiled, NZ Opera continues its strong participation, outreach and development programmes. These include a national Opera in Schools tour (which reaches over 10,000 tamariki annually), partnering with the Auckland Philharmonia in their Summer School and Tū Tamariki - a kaupapa which focuses on Māori-driven work.

Cohen notes, "The future of opera in Aotearoa relies on an ecosystem which we hold and sustain. In 2024, I'm delighted to launch our inaugural New Opera Forum, which will create a space for the conception of new opera from this land. This is a long game, and one we are firmly committed to."

Gone Fisher - but back now

Jasmine Togo-Brisby, Hold, (2023). Photo- Gus Fisher Gallery..jpeg
Jasmine Togo-Brisby, Hold, (2023). Photo: Gus Fisher Gallery.

Concerns began to murmur when Gus Fisher Gallery announced its temporary closure last week - with some pondering on social media whether it would be permanent.

But after being shut for several days - an explanation emerged - along with some clarity, much to the relief of its supporters.

Gallery management noted on social media that there had been an incident that required a delicate response. 

"Due to accidental and significant damage involving a visitor to the gallery, Gus Fisher Gallery and the artist Jasmine Togo-Brisby (South Sea Islander/Australia) have agreed, with regret, to remove the work Hold (2023) from the exhibition Outcast, currently on show at the gallery.

"Hold was commissioned by the gallery for the exhibition and comprised a central rosette encircled by miniature replica Tam Tam drums, all cast in plaster. Its site-specific installation on the floor of the gallery mirrored our heritage Art Deco glass dome and its ornate details were reminiscent of the ceiling’s decorative motifs."

The temporary closure was in order for the work to be safely de-installed - but is back up and running with the Outcast exhibition - featuring works by Togo-Brisby and John Vea - open until 27 January.

Bena good result

Bena Jackson. Installation view as part of the exhibition 'Castle Mall' at RM Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau, 2023. Photo by Ardit Hoxha.jpg
Bena Jackson. Installation view as part of the exhibition 'Castle Mall' at RM Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau, 2023. Photo: Ardit Hoxha.

Getting a foothold in the creative community right out of art school can be a challenge - but it's one Bena Jackson will be able to do with a little extra confidence.

She's been awarded the $5000 Iris Fisher Scholarship for 2023, an award that supports an outstanding postgraduate student in the final year of a visual arts/fine arts course of study - for Jackson, that's her Master of Fine Arts at Massey University Wellington Whiti o Rehua School of Art.

Jackson says “I am thrilled to be awarded this year's scholarship, it really is a special and exciting way to end my year at Massey. I want to pass on how grateful and excited I am about the opportunity. Thank you to the generous Lou and Iris Fisher Charitable Trust, the team at Te Tuhi, and the people at Massey who've helped me along the way.”

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Bena Jackson. Photo: Russell Kleyn.

Expressing herself through sculpture and installation, Jackson's practice considers community actions in public space and urban environments where agency, ingenuity, potential, and tension intersect.

Jackson’s work is currently on display from 11-24 November as part of Exposure, the Graduation Exhibition for the College of Creative Arts (CoCA) at Massey University. 

Her recent exhibitions include Castle Mall at Auckland's RM Gallery, Camera phone at play_station space in Wellington; and Bound in secret knots with Teresa Collins at Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, also in Te Whānganui-a-Tara.

Jackson joins past recipients of the Iris Fisher Scholarship including Susu, Xi Li, Emily Parr, Quishile Charan, Aaron Kong, Christina Pataialii, Kalisolaite ‘Uhila and Erica van Zon.

Scholes in

The 2023 SPADA Conference takes place in Wellington this week (16-17 November)  which will include a special presentation to one of New Zealand's behind-the-scenes veterans.

Robin Scholes. Photo: Supplied.

The New Zealand’s screen producers’ guild will end Thursday evening by honouring Robin Scholes as the recipient of 2023’s Industry Champion Award - presented to those who have demonstrated passion and professionalism in making a significant contribution to Aotearoa's screen production industry.

There are no challenging Scholes's credentials - having collaborated with some of this country’s most well-known filmmakers.

Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors was Scholes’ first feature, achieving international acclaim as well as earning blockbuster box office status and state-of-the-nation debate in New Zealand. Scholes has collaborated twice more with Tamahori on Mahana and The Convert, which had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September this year and will be released in New Zealand cinemas in 2024.

She's also been involved in other feature films including Broken English, Rain, Crooked Earth, The Tattooist and Mister Pip, as well as television dramas like The Bad Seed, Black Hands and both series of The New Legends of Monkey.

From being a founding partner of independent television company Communicado back in 1983, through to a senior role in NZ production company Touchdown in the early 2000s and an independent, in-demand producer here in 2023, Scholes is a pioneer in creating a sustainable career in the screen industry.