Australia Council signs partnership with leading New York arts organisation

Morphia Series photo by Rachelle RobertsThe Australia Council for the Arts has signed a three-year partnership with New York’s Performance Space 122 (PS122) to guarantee presentation of Australian work in its program, including at its highly regarded COIL Festival.

Australia Council Executive Director Arts Strategy Dr Wendy Were said PS122 would feature three Australian works at its upcoming COIL 2016 Festival in New York in January.

COIL attracts artists, arts organisations and programmers from around the world who converge and engage in the programs of several festivals and significant performing arts conferences. These include the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, International Society for the Performing Arts, the Public’s Under the Radar, American Realness and Prototype.

“January in New York is one of the key hotspots for international presenters to see work, network and build partnerships,” said Dr Were. “The COIL Festival is a vital event on the performing arts calendar, presenting dance, theatre, music, performance, media and virtual art to local audiences, as well as international artists and arts professionals.

“Australian artists and arts organisations have been attending performing arts events in New York for many years, which prompted the Council to broker a partnership that would ensure the Australian arts sector was an integral part of the important platform that the COIL Festival provides.”

Australia Council Chief Executive Tony Grybowski said our distinctive and diverse Australian arts were already well represented on the world stage, with more than one in three Australian artists involved in international work. Interest in Australian work is growing and there is a desire for artistic collaborations across established and emerging markets.

“The Council has invested around $11 million each year in international arts activity since 2010-11, and in addition regularly funds many arts organisations that work internationally,” said Mr Grybowski. “This strategic support has enabled artistic, market and audience development, as well as providing significant value to Australia’s cultural diplomacy agenda.”

“For it to be most effective, international arts investment must be grounded in knowledge of the arts sector’s international activities, ambitions, and needs. Our recent research report International Arts Activity – Australian Arts Sector provides a clear picture of the activities artists and arts organisations are pursuing, what their aspirations and priorities are, and what they need to reach their goals.

“The report identified the US as a key international market for Australian performing arts in terms of size and reputation, which is why the partnership with PS122 is so important to advancing artists and arts organisations working in this field.”

The partnership enables three Australian works to be presented in the PS122 program, with two guaranteed to be presented in the COIL Festival each year – one of the most prestigious festivals in the world for contemporary performing arts.

The goal is to ensure Australian contemporary performing arts has a long-term presence in the important New York market and to maximise opportunities for Australian work to be seen by international presenters and influencers as well as an arts savvy public.

The partnership will begin at the COIL 2016 Festival and will include 2017 and 2018.  The Australian works presented at COIL are co-curated by Performance Space 122 and the city of Melbourne’s Arts House. The 2016 Australian line up celebrates the diversity and unique qualities of Australian independent performing arts and includes:

Morphia Series by Helen Herbertson and Ben Cobham – an intimate examination of the self in the surrounding world, working with the notion that life hovers somewhere between the ordinary and the metaphysical.  Inspired by Morpheus, son of Hypnos and the Greek god of dreams the piece creates a vivid encounter with image, sound, text, movement to lead the audience of only 12 through a series of sensory experiences.

Intimacy by Ranters Theater begins with a lone actor on stage, telling the audience about a time when he decided to approach strangers on the street and have conversations with them. He talks to people such as Russell, a 62-year-old man who has a passion for rollercoasters; a street performer known as ‘The Birdman’; and a chef plagued with insomnia. The production explores the notion of intimacy unique to when two strangers meet and talk. The heart of the show examines the idea that we can feel more at ease in revealing our true selves to people we don’t know or may never see again, rather than to our loved ones.

Polytoxic’s BackUp Service blends experiential live art with pub-style karaoke. It offers participants an experience to help find their inner star with a complimentary dress-up to transform them into a rock god or goddess and backup dancers are included.  The ‘service’ has featured at Perth Fringe World and Adelaide Fringe artist bars, and at the late night Korean Speakeasy bar, Underground as part of Brisbane Festival.

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Image: Morphia Series – photo by Rachelle Roberts