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Major Creative Vacancy Filled

04 Dec 2023

Auckland Arts Festival have revealed Shona McCullagh's successor as Artistic Director - and it turns out they didn't need to look too far.

One of the biggest vacancies in the creative sector has been filled.

After Shona McCullagh announced the 2024 Auckland Arts Festival (AAF) would be her fourth and final programme in the role, the hunt began for her replacement as Artistic Director.

The position- that was listed here on The Big Idea - has been filled by Bernie Haldane, who will come into the position from January 2024 to begin the process of building programmes for the 2025-2028 festivals, with McCullagh still overseeing the 2024 iteration before her departure.

Haldane has previously been the Creative Director for Auckland Live, so comes into the role with an intricate knowledge of Tāmaki Makaurau's creative landscape and a close working relationship with AAF. She has spent eight years with the largest performing arts centre model in the country, overseeing 11 different Auckland venues.

“I'm thrilled to assume the role of Artistic Director Kaitohu Toi for Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Auckland Arts Festival, an opportunity to foster connections between artists and audiences, crafting experiences that intrigue the curious and adventurous. The Festival has been an exhilarating creative catalyst for Tāmaki Makaurau, and I'm eager to expand upon past festival programmes, infusing energy into a city and a creative sector I deeply care about."

Haldane's CV is littered with experience across many facets of the performing arts and events industry, with particular interest paid to her knowledge base around the development of new presenting partner relationships, connection with new audiences and the commissioning and development of work from the artists of Aotearoa.

That experience reaches to both sides of the Tasman, having previously held roles as Director of Presenter Services at Arts Centre Melbourne and as the Chief Executive of HotHouse Theatre in Albury. Haldane is involved in industry groups in both Australia and New Zealand, with a focus on national and international touring, driven by her commitment to helping artists prolong the life of their work - a long-held kaupapa shared by AAF.

Auckland Festival Trust  Board Chair, John Judge explains that when making the appointment, they were looking for someone who was in touch with the changing face of demand for arts experiences in New Zealand’s largest city.

“Bernie has extensive experience both nationally and internationally across multiple art forms which have reached and connected with many different communities of Auckland. The Board looks forward to working with Bernie, implementing her creative ideas, and continuing to evolve our city’s globally recognised celebration of the arts."

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