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NZ Creatives Share in $1.3M International Funding Grant

17 Jan 2024

Some big-name NZ artists and organisations have been given major financial boosts to help take their work to the UK - and bring other talent to our shores.

2024 is off to a flying start for nine Aotearoa arts and culture projects - quite literally.

The goal of taking their mahi international - or bringing international flavour here to New Zealand - has been fulfilled thanks to the British Council's international Connections Through Culture Grant programme, with the successful recipients just announced today (17 January).

After an open call for applications ran here on The Big Idea late last year - offering the opportunity for funding up to $10,000 for projects that build new cultural collaborations between NZ and the UK - 37 Aotearoa artists put their ideas forward.

The nine selected from Aotearoa join a group of 76 projects across Australia, Japan, New Zealand, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and the Philippines in getting the green light - with over $1.3 million funding in total.

Projects have been supported across a variety of art forms, including film, creative technology, literature, visual arts, theatre, dance, circus, architecture, design, fashion, craft, and music. 

It's the first time this grant has been made available to Aotearoa creatives - Director of the British Council New Zealand and the Pacific Natasha Beckman is thrilled to see an impressive collection of projects calling it "a unique opportunity."  

She continues "We were impressed by so many high-quality applicants from Aotearoa that reflect the core themes of climate change and diversity and also deliver an innovative UK/NZ cultural exchange across a breadth of geography and culture.  That nine projects from NZ have been successful is testament to the quality of our artists.

“These collaborations not only exemplify the power of artistic exchange but also open doors to new and exciting opportunities for artists on an international stage."

The grant looks at work at any stage of development and across all art forms. Beckman adds, “A key aspect of the successful projects is that they connect UK and Aotearoa New Zealand and explore themes of diversity and climate change in innovative ways.

“The British Council NZ and the Pacific is thrilled to support these unique projects that bring together UK and NZ and contribute to reciprocal understanding and reflection.” 

Among the nine projects is Aotearoa's most recent Venice Biennale artist Yuki Kihara, who will work with the Sainsbury Centre in the UK to continue her re-evaluation of twentieth-century European figures from a Queer, Indigenous perspective - with Darwin Drag. 

Celebrated creative and member of esteemed arts collectives Pacific Sisters and SaVĀge K’lub Rosanna Raymond will travel to Mimosa House in London on a research residency to develop, create and present her next work - THE VANITY ROOM.

Award-winning producer Helena-Jane Kilkelly is among those delighted - after being given support to tour her counter-narrative spoken word and poetry performance  Faovale Imperium (with James Nokise and DJ Don Luchito.

KilKelly states "This funding will enable us to work with the National Museum of Scotland to launch the UK Tour of the show, and engage in timely and important conversations with Museums, Art Galleries and their audiences, challenging the purpose of, and narratives within, those spaces and reclaiming our Pasifika storytelling.’

The Auckland Writers Festival (AWF) has also used this grant to build a new connection with Our Culture, Our Climate - Voices from Across the Pacific - in collaboration with the UK's Hot Poets.

Lyndsey Fineran, AWF Artistic Director explains "This initiative brings together two organisations of international renown: Auckland Writers Festival | Waituhi o Tāmaki and Hot Poets in the UK in an innovative collaboration that combines indigenous Pasifika knowledge, poetry, film and performance in a dynamic creative response to the most urgent climate issues of our time."

It cuts both ways - with UK artist and curator Louise Beer bringing Earth, a Cosmic Spectacle to Tūhura Otago Museum and children at Dunedin high schools.

Beer reacts "This funding will enable me to explore different perceptions of the climate crisis through the knowledge of Tūhura scientists who have a deep understanding of the timescales it has taken to form our world, alongside the thoughts and feelings of Ōtepoti high school students. I will develop a body of photographic work reflecting on the deeptime history of Otago landscapes and the long and slow evolution of Earth, to be displayed at the museum with a series of curated events."

Projects supported from New Zealand

Darwin Drag

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Yuki KIhara. Photo: Gui Taccetti.

UK: Sainsbury Centre
NZ: Yuki Kihara

This project focuses on the creation of a new work by Yuki Kihara to be premiered in an exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre in 2025. Titled Darwin Drag, the work continues Kihara’s re-evaluation of twentieth-century European figures from a Queer, Indigenous perspective, revealing Charles Darwin’s hidden research on non-heteronormative and same-sex attraction in animals, and introducing fish species with ‘Fa’afafine traits’.


Earth, a Cosmic Spectacle

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Louise Beer. Photo: Supplied.

UK: Louise Beer
NZ: Tūhura Otago Museum

Louise Beer will explore the cosmic significance of life on Earth through the perspectives of scientists at Tūhura Otago Museum and children at Dunedin high schools. The artist will develop a body of photographic work reflecting on the deep time history of the landscapes, to be displayed at Tūhura alongside a series of curated events.

Equal Voices - the place where our stories meet - a cross cultural and cross linguistic exchange

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EVA performers Thora Huebner and Mihailo Ladevac. Photo: Micheal Smith.

UK: Kaite O'Reilly
NZ: Equal Voices Arts

Public presentations by renowned UK-based disabled artist Kaite O’Reilly and Deaf and hearing theatre company Equal Voices Arts will explore what O'Reilly calls ‘alternative dramaturgies informed by Deaf and disability perspectives’. The presentations will be followed by discussions facilitating cross-lingual and cross-cultural exchange between internationally gathered Deaf and disabled artists to share practices and processes to support cultural expression.

Faovale Imperium

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Faovale Imperium. Photo: Matt Grace.

UK: National Museums Scotland
NZ: Helena-Jane Kilkelly

Re-developed in partnership with the National Museum of Scotland, and touring the UK in August/September 2024, Faovale Imperium is a purpose-built counter-narrative spoken word and poetry performance performed over a live soundtrack. Built for, and performed in, museum and art gallery spaces, the work challenges the purposes of those spaces, and the audiences within.

Our Culture, Our Climate - Voices from Across the Pacific

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Hot Poets performers Liv and Chris Southbank. Photo: Supplied.

UK: Hot Poets
NZ: Auckland Writers Festival

'Our Culture, Our Climate - Voices from Across the Pacific' brings together two organisations of international renown: Auckland Writers Festival Waituhi o Tāmaki and Hot Poets in an innovative collaboration that uses poetry, film and performance to bring together and showcase some of the most urgent and authentic voices in climate activism from the region of the world most at risk.

Research and Professional Development Residency

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Delfina Foundation. Photo: Pari Naderi.

UK: Delfina Foundation
NZ: Te Tuhi

Te Tuhi, Delfina Foundation and Metroland Cultures offers a residency in London for a curator from Aotearoa New Zealand interested in testing and developing new approaches to a collaborative practice bridging artists and communities. The residency provides opportunities to gain training, skills and experience, while embedded in the curatorial workings of Metroland Cultures and through private research at Delfina Foundation.

Te Tūmahanatanga Tawhiti - An International Exchange of Knowledge, Art and Culture

Tukutuku Workshops, London UK. Photo: Catherine Schuster.

UK: Te Maru o Hinemihi
NZ: Ngā Kohinga Whakairo o Hinemihi

UK-based Te Maru o Hinemihi will lead the programme "Te Tūmahanatanga Tawhiti - An International Exchange of Knowledge, Art and Culture" in London, UK, mid 2024, alongside their partners Ngā Kohinga Whakairo o Hinemihi and the National Trust. The programme includes discussions on Māori carvings, woven tukutuku panels and traditional protocols, within the context of Hinemihi, a Māori meeting house, as well as Māori language courses at varying levels.

The London Waka

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Anthony Hoete and Dean Sully with an auto-icon of the philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Betham (seated) at the UCL Senate in 2022. Photo: Wikuki Kingi.

UK: University College London
NZ: University of Auckland

This project between the University of Auckland and University College London, will explore the sophisticated navigation and exploration traditions of South Pacific ocean voyaging vessels through the co-design of a single, hybrid canoe designed to be rowed and sailed on the River Thames in London.


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Rosanna Raymond. Photo: Rebecca Zephyr Thomas.

UK: Mimosa House
NZ: Rosanna Raymond

A research residency for Pasifika artist Rosanna Raymond to travel to Mimosa House, London to develop, create and present THE VĀNITY ROOM - a new chapter of SaVĀge K’lub, as part of ‘transfeminisms', a major survey touring show that bring to light a multiplicity of urgent, pressing and ongoing issues faced by women, queer and transgender people across the globe.