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Kiwis Take Flight at Edinburgh Festivals

More than 200 New Zealand artists will take part in the world’s most acclaimed arts festivals in Edinburgh this August.

This is the first time such a large group of leading New Zealand actors, dancers, musicians, writers, Māori performing artists, spoken word and visual artists has been invited to the celebrated Edinburgh Festivals, which each year attract an estimated 25,000 artists, 1000 international producers and an audience of four million.

The NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season will feature New Zealand artists at seven of the Edinburgh Festivals: the Edinburgh International Festival, regarded as the world’s leading arts festival; the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s biggest arts festival; the renowned Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo; the Edinburgh Art Festival; the Edinburgh International Book Festival; the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

Included in the season are choreographer Lemi Ponifasio and his company MAU; Auckland Theatre Company; composer Gareth Farr; Pasifika theatre group Kila Kokonut Krew; pianist Michael Houstoun; Te Matatini’s national kapa haka champions; dance company Black Grace; author Witi Ihimaera and many more.

The NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season is supported by Creative New Zealand to showcase New Zealand arts and culture on the world stage, to engage with international arts practitioners and to develop new audiences, buyers and networks.

Creative New Zealand is assisting companies and artists with flights, freight and a contribution towards landed costs. The programme is supported by the New Zealand Government through Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s Cultural Diplomacy International Programme and the British Council.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our talented New Zealand artists to show their work on such a high-profile world stage. It is a tribute to their talents and the quality of their work that the NZ at Edinburgh artists were invited to attend by the Edinburgh Festivals,” says Chairman of the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand, Dr Dick Grant.

“The timing is ideal as the New Zealand season coincides with the Commonwealth Games being staged in Glasgow this year. 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,” he says.

Composer Gareth Farr, choreographer Lemi Ponifasio and MAU, and pianist Michael Houstoun have been invited to take part in the prestigious Edinburgh International Festival.

Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, Sir Jonathan Mills, says: “Two important landmarks in 2014 that we share internationally are those of the centenary commemoration of the First World War and the Commonwealth nations gathering in Scotland for the Games. These provide inspiration points for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival and make these distinct and important contributions of the New Zealand artists central to the Festival.”

“I am delighted that with the support of Creative New Zealand we will be once again be showcasing the work of Lemi Ponifasio and his company MAU, and presenting the Festival debuts of pianist Michael Houstoun and composers Douglas Lilburn and Gareth Farr, whose new work we will premiere this August. We also welcome a new generation of New Zealand’s musical talent in members of the Commonwealth Strings ensemble, brought together from across the Commonwealth especially for this year’s Festival.”

Eight companies will take part in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, appearing mainly at Assembly Festival and Summerhall venues, including Kila Kokonut Krew, Auckland Theatre Company and Black Grace.

Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Kath Mainland, says: “We're thrilled that Creative New Zealand is investing in this wonderful project to bring some of New Zealand's most exciting creative talent to Edinburgh this summer. As the world's largest arts festival, and one of the most significant international arts markets, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the perfect place to show off New Zealand's cultural wares to the world.’’

Leading Te Matatini kapa haka groups, Te Waka Huia and Te Whānau ā Apanui and the New Zealand Highland Dancers will perform as part of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Producer and Chief Executive, Brigadier David Allfrey, says: “We are delighted at the prospect of two such notable acts from New Zealand in our 65th season: a celebration of Our Home, Friends and Family. They will be performing separately and together to showcase the richness of New Zealand’s culture and heritage.

“Our connections with New Zealand are legion and we have a tremendous record of collaboration, on more than 30 occasions over the years. The unique combination of the highland dancers and award winning kapa haka will thrill our live audiences - 8,800 each evening, 220,000 in all - and come across very strongly to our substantial international television audience.”

Five New Zealand visual artists: Kushana Bush; Steve Carr; Gavin Hipkins; Shannon Te Ao and Yvonne Todd will take part in an international exhibition for the Edinburgh Art Festival, supported by the British Council and curated by Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s Aaron Kreisler. This festival fills the city’s leading art galleries, museums and artist-run spaces during August.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Aaron Kreisler, Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Creative New Zealand to bring some of New Zealand's most talented contemporary artists to Edinburgh; the majority of whom will be presenting their work in the UK for the very first time,” says Sorcha Carey, Director of the Edinburgh Art Festival.

New Zealand author Witi Ihimaera will attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival, participating in events on language and nations, the evolution of language and post-colonial writing. The festival features 80 authors and 750 events.

Leading contemporary jazz band The Troubles will play a series of gigs as part of the Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, including being part of the Commonwealth Jazz Orchestra.

Poets Grace Taylor and Daren Kamali of Niu Navigations have been invited to take part in the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, a 10-day celebration of live storytelling, oral traditions and cultural diversity.

In recognition of this special NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season, Creative New Zealand also gave priority in its September and October 2013 rounds of Quick Response and Arts Grants to artists applying for support to present small-scale works at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe. As a result, three further artists or companies were funded to take part: Java Dance with Back of the Bus; FanFiction Comedy and a solo show by Morgana O’Reilly, The Height of the Eiffel Tower.

Creative New Zealand congratulates all those New Zealand artists taking part in the Edinburgh festivals, independently of the NZ at Edinburgh 2014 season. “New Zealand has a strong history of highly successful performers at the Edinburgh Fringe, including The Topp Twins and Flight of the Conchords,” says Dr Grant. “I am sure that New Zealand artists will be among the great successes of Edinburgh this year.”

Updated on 23rd July 2015