Kiwis to get arty in Edinburgh

TOM CARDY
Last updated 12:27 16/04/2014
 Gareth Farr

GOING TO EDINBURGH: Gareth Farr

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The largest contingent of New Zealand artists in history will take part in seven festivals in Edinburgh in August, including the prestigious international and fringe festivals.

Wellington artists and performers among the 200 going to Edinburgh include composer Gareth Farr, Java Dance Company and jazz band The Troubles.

Acclaimed Feilding-based pianist Michael Houstoun will make his Edinburgh International Festival debut. Choreographer Lemi Ponifasio, who had two shows in the New Zealand Festival in Wellington, is also going.

The full lineup of artists and shows was launched by Creative New Zealand in Auckland today and is being promoted as the NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season.

Creative NZ is spending $782,500 towards flights, freight and ground costs, as well as promotional campaign.

Australian Sir Jonathan Mills, the Edinburgh International Festival's artistic director, is in Auckland and Wellington today for the launch.

Mills said he had come to New Zealand not only celebrate the country's involvement this year, but also to encourage the Government and agencies to further support New Zealand artists getting to international festivals.

"You've got some very good artists," Mills said.

"Don't be defensive, be bold, be ambitious. The message I will be giving is that New Zealand has nothing to worry about in terms of the depth and diversity of its cultural offerings, whether in literature, visual art, performing arts or in music and dance.

"In any areas - go for it and demand the kind of support from your agencies," he told The Dominion Post.

As well as the international and fringe festivals, New Zealand artists will feature at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

The festivals are likely to attract an audience of 4 million and Mills said there would likely be more exposure due to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"The timing is ideal," Creative NZ Arts Council chairman Dr Dick Grant said.

"This means our elite and emerging artists and our elite and emerging athletes will be the centre of attention at the same period of time in Scotland. It will be a real plus for New Zealand."

Java Dance Company's show, Back of the Bus, is performed in a moving bus and had a return season in Wellington this month.

It will be staged in the Edinburgh Fringe, which helped expose Kiwi acts Flight of the Conchords and The Topp Twins.

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