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This week on your arts and culture radio show, 12.30pm to 4pm Standing Room Only: winners and going solo. We speak to the winner of the National Contemporary Art Award, have Billy T winner Kura Forrester on the Laugh Track and the Adam New Zealand Play Award winning play The Mercy Clause by Philip Braithwaite. Tahi Festival is a new theatre festival for that Kiwi favourite, the solo theatre show, and our writer is one of our crime writing greats Paul Cleave.

Photographic artist Greg Semu has brilliantly reinterpreted the classic Goldie and Steele painting The Arrival of Maoris (sic) to New Zealand for a new century, collaborating with the community in Rarotonga and we talk to the creators of an online journal dedicated to giving us hope in a time of climate change:

And we kick off the show with a discussion about whether charging an admission price at our museums and galleries is a good idea - with Museums Aotearoa director Phillipa Tocker and Dunedin Public Art Gallery director Cam McCracken - and news on how new entrance charges at Auckland Art Gallery and the Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth are going. 


12:30 What price art and culture? Paying for museum admission in NZ

Who should pay? That’s the question that continues to be asked of New Zealand’s public museums and galleries, particularly by their councils.  Wander in and take shelter with family or friends on a cold wet winter’s day to national museum Te Papa and, care of our taxes, entrance is free. With the exception of some visiting blockbusters. The same goes for many city and regional museums and galleries nationwide, with a koha welcomed with various degrees of insistence!

Some, however are taking a harder stance, and many have tried to institute an admission price only to have to withdraw it a few years later.

Simon Morris this week talked to director of Museums Aotearoa Phillipa Tocker and the Director of Dunedin Public Art gallery Cam McCracken.

Dunedin’s gallery had an admission charge when it reopened in the Octagon in the 1990s, but that was dropped. Numbers have since surged, says Cam, and recently council considered an admission charge across its cultural institutions again, only to decide against it after doing some research. 

But the pressure seem to always be there. Since early 2018 if you’re visiting Auckland Art Gallery it’ll cost you $20 if you’re not a New Zealand resident (and locals now need proof of NZ residency). Statistics just in from the gallery this week are that in the year ending January 2019 (when the charge was introduced) visitation was 415,000, down from 534,000 visitors in 2018. Of that 119,000 visitor drop, only 44,000 were international visitors (dropping from 88,000 the previous year). Are then New Zealanders put off by either confusion as to who the admission price applies to, or the need to provide ID?

Auckland Art gallery issued a statement: “The gallery is concerned to ensure the collection and programme remains accessible to all visitors, and is monitoring visitation in conjunction with the development of our programme going forward.”

Meanwhile, in New Plymouth, the new Len Lye Centre and Govett Brewster Gallery reopened in 2015, with plenty of state investment, but last year the New Plymouth District Council introduced a $15 (for adults) fee for non-ratepayers. That means all who live outside the New Plymouth district - be they from Hawera or Auckland -  pay. Now there are concerns being expressed about how far off the gallery is from achieving its target visitor numbers, and some local councillors are suggesting dropping the fee.

Similar happened to the MTG Museum in Hawkes Bay, who introduced an admission fee when they reopened after development, and which has now been dropped.    


12:45 And the winner is.... The National Contemporary Art Award

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Photo: Provided

Dunedin-based artist Ayesha Green has won the prestigious $25,000 National Contemporary Art Award for 2019 for a painting entitled Nana’s Birthday (A Big Breath). New Zealand's National Contemporary Art Award is celebrating its 20th year. Held at the Waikato Museum, the award has been a go-to place for media controversy. Notorious winners have included this years New Zealand artist at the Venice Biennale Dane Mitchell's pile of rubbish (made from the discarded wrappings for the other finalists artworks), Gavin Hipkins photograph of a soap dish and Dave Stewarts ready-made sculpture of beer crates. The winner of this years award was announced on Friday night at the opening of the exhibition of the work of the 50 finalists, receiving $25,000 from  major sponsors Tompkins Wake and Chow Hill. 

We talk to the winner live in the studio on the Sunday and also this year's judge, renowned New Zealand photographic artist Fiona Pardington. 

There's a handy chart of the past winners' work online here


1:10 At The Movies

Simon Morris looks at some films that overcome a lack of budget by calling in favours from the film-makers' friends and family. These include a high school comedy, a social drama, the unlikely true story of a German prisoner of war who became a British football legend, and a Kiwi family comedy called Births deaths and marriages.


1:33 Reinterpreting a Classic Depiction of  Polynesian Migration - Greg Semu

Auckland Art Gallery have dubbed it "probably the best-known history painting ever produced in New Zealand". And in the hands of Samoan New Zealand photographer Greg Semu it has had a bold reinterpetation for the 21st century.   

Louis Steele and Charles Goldie's 1899 painting 'The Arrival of the Maoris to New Zealand' (pictured) depicts a double waka packed with starving emaciated Polynesian people, reaching out their arms towards Aotearoa on news of its sight on the horizon. 

Based on French painter Géricault's famous picture 'Raft of the Medusa' the painting is inspired by European rather than any Maori accounts of the immigration voyages. 

The Arrival, Greg's giant photographic reinterpretation of the painting was first shown at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne in 2016 and it has taken until this month for the work to be shown in New Zealand. It features in the exhibition HERE: Kupe to Cook at Pātaka in Porirua, in which artists explore the journeys of our Maori, Polynesian and European navigators.

Like Gericault before him Greg Semu is currently in Paris. He's lived there before, inspiring his interest in classic European painting, but these days is resident in Sydney and was visiting to speak at the Oceania exhibition. The chiaroscuro of European painters, their treatment of drama and use of light has been a major influence for these lightbox based works.  

For Greg indigenous community engagement was a vital part of the development of this work. With the assistance of a CNZ grant he created The Arrival in Rarotonga collaborating with many locals to create the set, film the work and people it. He was inspired by the possibility that the Cook Islands were one of the last staging posts for the migration to New Zealand, and he wanted to do something empowering he says for Cook Island Maori, whose voices he feels are underrepresented. The arts he believes are underappreciated for how they contribute in ways like this to local economies in employing people.  


1:50 Giving Hope in a Climate Emergency -

Art for earth's sake… the antropocene is the name for the current geological age, judged as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on our climate and environment. And as such its become a byword for the damage we are inflicting on the planet. Online now is a new publication, or zine, themed around climate concerns. It's been created by a bunch of Massey University communication students nationwide who wanted to use art as a way to foster a love of nature. Joining the programme with Mark Amery are web designer Rachel Lewis and content curator Harry Townsend. Harry is also a performance poet and begins this item by sharing some of his work.

Fostering a love for nature among a generation more focused on digital screens than wilderness scenes is the aim of the publication. These Massey students "hope to cut through the inertia and fear that overwhelmingly negative news about climate change can trigger."

Townsend, a third year Bachelor of Communication student, says the idea behind the The Anthropozine is a “digital campfire” to reconnect people with a love and appreciation of nature’s beauty. This, he believes, is "a necessary precursor to unleashing a deeper sense of concern for the damage being done to the natural world – ultimately to motivate action."

The publication offers a diverse array of art, photography, poetry, essays and advocacy on a broad range of environmental topics. It also features podcasts, such as one featuring Wellington-based storyteller and educator Peregrin Hyde in discussion with Tony Huang, co-convener of School’s Strike for Climate New Zealand; Nikau Te Huki, an artist, activist, and the frontman of Wellington Band H4lf Cāst; Dr Sea Rotmann, a marine biologist and ecologist, head of a global research endeavour into human behaviour and Extinction Rebellion Activist; and William Berek, a student of climate change science, psychology and policy.

You can keep up with content through their Facebook page.


2:06 The Laugh Track - Kura Forrester

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Photo: Andi Crown

Kura not only picked up the stand-up Billy T Award, she's currently acting in Golden Boy and The Educators, as well as writing for Aroha Bridge, Funny Girls and 7 Days. Her picks: Aotea Bridge, Thomas Sainsbury, Only in Aotea and Wilson Dixon. Kura Shoulda Woulda The Return Season is playing at Auckland's Q Theatre on August the 31st.


2:25 Dancing with a Stranger - Daniel James

Wellington mutlmedia artist Daniel James is the man behind  what is being billed as a world-first, an interactive installation work merging dance, film and touchscreen technology. Debuting in Wellington at the Hutt Winter Festival it's called Dance with a Stranger.  You can dance with it at the Hutt City Council offices for one day only 2pm to 6pm Saturday 17th of August. 

Daniel has been selected to present at Prague Quadrennial twice over (it's the world's largest performance design festival). In 2015, he hand-built a human-scale robot that was included in the NZ national exhibition there. Daniel has just come back from Prague where he composed the music and created a mapped projection work. 

The concept for Dance with a Stranger initially came out of conversations with Jess Quaid. The idea is that the screen becomes a place where someone can connect (via the screen) and have a moment of joy dancing together with a complete stranger. The intention is that it would break down perceived barriers of age/race/gender and other demographics - allowing humans to interact with other humans.

Daniel doesn't know of any other works that involve community workshops to create content for an interactive touchscreen. His aim with this interactive workshop is for people to come away with a feeling that we are not all that different from one another. He has run filming workshops around different community hubs across the Hutt Valley, where he filmed members of the public and inserted them into the piece and appear as the 'strangers' that other members of the public will dance with. 

The instant that a participant presses their own hand to the window, a stranger suddenly appears, pressing their hand to the participant's hand, and the music starts playing. 

Exactly as the title of the work suggests, the stranger on-screen dances, whilst pressing their hand to the participants. The participant may respond by dancing together with the stranger, as their hands press through the screen. When the participant releases their hand, the screen returns to its original ambient state.


2:40 Paul Cleave's gritty overseas crime story

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Photo: Provided

Thriller writer Paul Cleave is one of our best-selling authors - responsible for even more fictional murders than fellow Cantabrian, whodunnit queen Dame Ngaio Marsh. But his latest - Whatever it takes (Upstart Press) - is unusual.  It's no longer set in Christchurch - his usual stomping ground.  

Paul's gritty crime novels are synonymous with the city he lives in, but with his 11th novel he's set the action outside of New Zealand for the first time.

One of the country's most internationally successful authors, Paul's books have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold over a million copies worldwide. He's won New Zealand's Ngaio Marsh award three times over and been a finalist in the American Edgar Awards, Australia's Ned Kelly awards and the Barry Awards.

2:49 Alone again, naturally: Tahi Festival

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It's the  most cost-effective drama there is, and often the most riveting.  Solo Performance - one person on stage for an hour or so with no visible support - has a noble tradition in New Zealand - from Bruce Mason's End of the Golden Weather to Jacob Rajan's Krishnan's Dairy, from Madeleine Sami in Number Two to Cathy Downes channeling Katherine Mansfield, and Sophie Henderson's Fantail.

But solo performance has never had an official dedicated festival - we think - until now. Wellington is about to host the Tahi Festival, and we're joined by its director Sally Richards.

"This five-day festival is dedicated to showcasing New Zealand’s finest, most engaging solo performance. It gathers soloists from around the nation – from established to emerging practitioners – to present work, collaborate, and make connections across the industry. Alongside premiering and showcasing solo performances, the Festival aims to provide opportunities for practitioners to extend the life of their performance work, to upskill, and to network through an integrated programme of performance, workshops, and forums. It also seeks to foster relationships among tertiary institutions, actor training courses, secondary schools, BATS Theatre, and industry professionals." 


3:06 Drama at 3 -  The Mercy Clause

The Adam New Zealand Play Award is the only one of its kind in this country for new writing. It's run by Playmarket and is given out annually for the best new, New Zealand play.   

A few years back, The Mercy Clause won the Adam award for playwright, Philip Braithwaite and our RNZ production of that script is the Drama at Three this week.

Philip Braithwaite is no stranger to winning awards. He has won the prestigious British-based Sony Award for Radio Drama, the Massey University Cultural Award and back in 2001, not long after graduating university, Philip won the BBC World Service International Radio Playwriting Competition.

Music played in this show

Artist: Lene Lovich
Song: Lucky Number
Composer: Lovich and Chappell
Album: Stateless
Label: Polygram
Played at: 12.35pm

Artist: 10cc
Song: Art for Art's Sake
Composer: Stewart and Gouldman
Album: How Dare You
Label: Mercury
Played at: 12.40pm

Artist: Elton John
Song: The One
Composer: John and Taupin
Album: The One
Label: MCA
Played at: 12.55pm

Artist: The Tremeloes
Song: (Call Me) Number Ones
Composer:  BlakleyHawkes
Label: CBS
Played at: 1.05pm

Artist: Three Dog Night
Song: One
Composer: Nilsson 
Album: Three Dog Night
Label: ABC
Played at: 1.45pm

Artist: Funkadelic
Song: One nation under a groove
Composer: Clinton, Morrison and Shider
Album: One nation under a groove
Label: Warner Bros
Played at: 1.55pm

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