Major projects and activities
Support for cultural programs remains an important element of the Council's strategy for deepening awareness and understanding by the peoples of Australia and China of each other's societies and cultures. It is also consistent with the Government's broader objective of giving Australia a good image overseas, including by highlighting Australia's cultural and artistic achievements. Under the Council's strategic plan in October 1998 the Culture and Publishing Committee (later Culture Committee) agreed on the guidelines set out below, which describe the Committee's aims and priorities.
During the reporting period the Council supported several major cultural projects including exhibitions and visits to China by leading Australian performing arts groups and Chinese participation in cultural events in Australia. These activities are outlined below.
1998 Asialink Residencies in performing arts, visual arts and literature
The Council supported the 1998 Asialink Residency Program with funding for three residencies in China in the performing arts, the visual arts and literature. The program aims to encourage cultural contacts between Australia and China, to facilitate the exchange of ideas, skills and knowledge in the cultural field, and to enhance the profile of Australia in the region as a diverse and sophisticated contemporary culture.
The Council's grant of $18 000 contributed towards costs associated with the following residencies: Mr Zhang Xiaoxiong, choreographer, at the Guangdong Modern Dance Company; Mr George Gittoes, painter, at the Beijing Art Academy; and Mr Sang Ye, writer, at Beijing Normal University.
Chinese participation in the 11th Biennale of Sydney 1998
The Council supported Chinese participation in every day, the 11th Biennale of Sydney held from September to November 1998, with a grant of $30 000. The China component featured four artists from China and one from Hong Kong, the largest Chinese representation so far at the Sydney Biennale. Chinese exhibits included paintings, calendar, sculptures, video projections and photographs. The Chinese exhibits demonstrated the vigour and diversity of contemporary Chinese art. The artists themselves brought a wealth of information and new ideas on contemporary art practice, which they exchanged with other artists visiting the Biennale and with Australian audiences.
Science and technology documentary films for China Central Television
The Council provided a grant of $12 000 to Gulliver Media Australia to help production of a series of documentary stories on Australia for China Central Television (CCTV). The series features stories on Australian science, technology, primary production, mining and the environment. Filming of several stories has been completed, including ones that highlight overseas students in Australia, merino sheep breeding and the Landcare program, and Australian technology such as an energy-efficient lighting system, computer-controlled traffic signalling systems and mining safety equipment. Such stories shown on television in China generate much interest in Australia and Australian technology and draw attention to Australian products, services and expertise. Some stories have already gone to air. Others will soon be nationally broadcast at prime time on CCTV to an audience of 800 million people.
Gulliver Media crew members filming the documentary for CCTV on merino sheep breeding and Landcare at Tinninburra Station,Queensland. Mr Larry Zetlin, director/writer, is second from left.
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, China tour, October 1998
The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO) performed a successful tour of five concerts in four cities in China from 5 to 19 October 1998. The orchestra performed in Beijing as part of the Beijing International Music Festival, which featured a special final night joint concert with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra. The overture and concerto were conducted by Mr Tan Lihua, the Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Beijing Syphony Orchestra, and the symphony conducted by Mr David Porcelijn of the TSO. Performances were also held in Shanghai and the inland cities of Wuhan (Hubei province) and Changsha (Hunan province), with capacity audiences. In addition to the total tour concert audience of nearly 4500 people local television and print media coverage extended total audience numbers to several million people. The Council supported the tour with a grant of $50 000.
Sherman Galleries The Rose Crossing exhibition
The Council made available a grant of $20 000 to support preparations for a tour of Asia by an exhibition entitled The Rose Crossing, comprising works by thirteen emerging and established contemporary Australian artists. The exhibition, inspired by Nicholas Jose's novel The Rose Crossing sought to combine cross-cultural exchange with an abiding interest in Asian culture and to engage at a conceptual level with Australia's neighbouring cultures. Six of the artists involved are of Asian origin and one is from the Middle East. They are Chen Yan Yin, Guan Wei, Michael Johnson, Tim Johnson and My Le Thi, Felicia Kan, John Olsen, Tim Storrier, Imants Tillers, Hossein Valamanesh, Savanhdary Vongpoothorn, John Wolseley and John Young. The exhibition was managed by Sherman Galleries and is scheduled to tour Hong Kong and Singapore from late 1999 to mid-2000.
Work by artist Guan Wei Neo-Genesis No. 1 (1998) from The Rose Crossing exhibition. Courtesy Sherman Galleries. Photography Paul Green.
Australian Ballet performances in Shanghai, June 1999
The Australian Ballet performed at the new Shanghai Grand Theatre from 25 to 28 June 1999 supported by a grant of $35 000 from the Council. To full houses over four nights the ballet performed the full-length classical ballet Don Quixote. Accompaniment was provided by the Shanghai Broadcasting Orchestra. The performances were covered extensively by local media and gave more than 6500 people the opportunity to see an Australian company performing high Western art. The performances were, moreover, among the first by an Australian cultural group at Shanghai's splendid new theatre, which was opened in 1998. The ballet's visit also provided the opportunity for discussions on future exchanges between the Shanghai and Australian ballet companies.