Society, Culture and Arts

Australia's links with China are led by our communities, through education, cultural and artistic connections, but also through migration and tourism. Australian and Chinese familial, institutional and social networks are growing rapidly and further contribute to mutual understanding between our countries and people.

ACC goal: Arts and Culture - Showcase Australian arts and creative industries to Chinese audiences and build closer and broader cultural and artistic partnership.

From ABC International

Cho Cho- A clash of cultures

Cho Cho – A Clash of Cultures

Cho Cho – A Clash of Cultures: A behind-the-scene look of the culture differences and collisions from the musical on stage to the team work between the actors.

Watch: Cho Cho – A Clash of Cultures

Shanghai Quartet in Australia

Shanghai Quartet in Australia

Shanghai Quartet, one of the world's most renowned string quartets, is performing in Australia for the first time in 25 years. They talked to ABC one-on-one about their secret of becoming one of the biggest names in chamber music.

Watch: Shanghai Quartet (English)

Watch: Shanghai Quartet (Chinese)

Li Cunxin, Mao's last dancer

Mao's last dancer

Mao's last dancer named Queensland's Australian of the Year

Watch: Li Cunxin Interview (English)

Watch: Li Cunxin Interview (Chinese)

Renowned Chinese artist Cai Guoqiang

Cai Guoqiang in Australia

Renowned Chinese artist Cai Guoqiang holds first solo exhibition in Australia

Watch: Cai Guoqiang Interview (English)

Watch: Cai Guoqiang Interview (Chinese)

Melbourne Spring

Melbourne Spring

爱墨尔本春天的五个理由 (Melbourne Spring) in Chinese

Watch: Melbourne Spring (Chinese)

The Australia-China Council: Our Work in Society and Culture

Featured stories

Three members of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra holding their instruments
Image: Sydney Symphony musicians outside the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing (L-R: Rachel Silver, Leah Lynn, Emma Sholl)

Sydney Symphony Tours China

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra successfully completed its third tour of China from 24 June to 5 July. ACC has been a proud supporter of this and the previous tours. The Orchestra, under the leadership of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director David Robertson, performed in Beijing, Shanghai, Jinan, Xi’an, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, with the full concert repertoire. The tour received extensive media coverage in both Australian and Chinese media.

Read: Sydney Symphony Blog

Jason Wing smiling with his grandfathers
Image: Jason Wing with his grandfathers. Image courtesy of the artist and Cultural Partnerships Australia

Exploring Indigenous and Chinese Heritage

ACC was proud to support a dynamic China exhibition by three contemporary Australian indigenous artists: Sandra Hill (Western Australia), Gary Lee (Northern Territory) and Jason Wing (New South Wales). The exhibition, titled "Yiban/Yiban (Yellah Fellah)" opened at the Redtory Art & Design Factory in Guangzhou on 28 June.

Model on catwalk

NSW Art Gallery launches the Chinese-language App

The Art Gallery of NSW is developing a range of Chinese-language digital visitor resources with the specific aim of welcoming and encouraging both local and international Chinese speakers to engage with the Gallery and its collection in more culturally intuitive ways.

More: NSW Art Gallery launches the Chinese-language App

Model on catwalk

Catwalk diplomacy

China’s fashion related industries are booming and recent years have seen a massive influx of international fashion and designer brands enter China to take advantage of booming retail sales and insatiable consumer demand.

More: Catwalk diplomacy

children laying on the ground in the shape of a dragon

Thirst Invisible Water Classroom

Thirst is dedicated to changing attitudes to water consumption by building awareness about the water crisis among 14-24 year olds around the world, starting in China.

More: Thirst Invisible Water Classroom

surfer standing on the beack with surfboard looking at ocean

Australian Surf Life Savers in Shenzhen

The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia (SLS) has partnered with Shenzhen Surfing Association (SSA) to deliver lifeguard training programs for local volunteer lifeguards in the Shenzhen region, as part of an Australia-China Council-funded initiative.

More: Australian Surf Life Savers in Shenzhen

wooden boat on stage

Chinese-language version of "Boats" performed in Shanghai

Renowned Tasmania-based Terrapin Puppet Theatre, in association with Reckless Moments and the Zhejiang Performance Company and support of the Australia-China Council, created a Chinese-language version of its international success, 'BOATS'.

More: Chinese-language version of "Boats" performed in Shanghai

man and woman on stage with a baby doll

CHO CHO presented in Sydney and Melbourne

CHO CHO is a bi-lingual musical theatre work based on the 'Madam Butterfly' story set in 1930s Shanghai. It is a co-production between the National Theatre of China, Playking Productions and Arts Centre Melbourne, and is the first joint production of this scale between Australia and China.

More: CHO CHO presented in Sydney and Melbourne

theatre group posing for camera

Stalker Theatre presents 'Compartmentalized'

Compartmentalized is Stalker Theatre's collaboration with Hong Kong-based dance company Unlock Dancing Plaza, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and the City of Sydney.

More: Stalker Theatre presents 'Compartmentalized'

performance and sound installation

Chinese artists at the 19th Biennale of Sydney

ACC has been a proud supporter of the Biennale for many years. We are pleased to support the participation of Chinese artists in the 2014 exhibition: Yingmei Duan, Taca Sui, Zhang Wenhua and Liu Bingye and Zhao Zhao.

More: Chinese artists at the 19th Biennale of Sydney

Cobilis on stage

Asialink Arts Residencies 2012-2013: Supporting Australian Artists' Journey to China

The Australia-China Council has been a proud supporter of Asialink Arts Residencies for a number of years. The program enables Australian artists and arts administrators to spend up to three months at a host organization in China or Taiwan, and collaborate with local cultural institutions and artists.

More: Asialink Arts Residencies 2012-2013

image of pages from a magazine advertising the photographer showcase

Australian Photographers showcased in China throughout 2013

The Australian writer and curator, Alasdair Foster, has been commissioned to write 12 monthly features for the celebrated Chinese art-photo magazine PhotoWorld. Spanning some 12-16 pages, each article and portfolio will focus on the work of a contemporary Australian photomedia artist, with a special emphasis on the diversity of approach and visual language at play in our country.

More: Australian Photographers showcased in China throughout 2013

orchestra stood outside the dome building

Sydney Symphony China Tour 2012: Music, Cultural Diplomacy and Shared Experiences

The Sydney Symphony travelled to China in October 2012 for a concert tour and collaborative residency programs with its major partner Xinghai Conservatory in Guangzhou and masterclasses at the Shanghai Conservatory.

More: Sydney Symphony China Tour 2012

APT7 logo

The 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Modern Art: A cultural dialogue that transcends borders, ethnicities and histories

Leading artists from China feature in the '7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT7) from December 8, 2012 to April 14, 2013 at the Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in Brisbane, Australia. The presentation of the leading Chinese artists at APT has been proudly supported by the Australia-China Council since the Triennial's inception 20 years ago.

More: The 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Modern Art

logo taken from the Gala poster

The Australian Ballet's 50th Anniversary

In 2012, The Australian Ballet marks 50 outstanding years on the stage. To celebrate this milestone, The Australian Ballet is presenting the International Gala from 31 October to 3 November, 2012. The Australia-China Council is supporting the presentation of the National Ballet of China at the Gala, which will bring Act II pas de deux from Giselle.

More: The Australian Ballet's 50th Anniversary- A Greeting Card from the National Ballet of China

a oerformer at the Fringe

Honey Pot - Adelaide Fringe's Asia-Pacific Arts Marketplace

Adelaide Fringe is the largest arts event in the Southern Hemisphere and is internationally renowned as one of the best. During February and March, this annual open-access festival brings together over 4,000 artists from around Australia and across the globe who participate alongside home-grown talent, in art forms spanning cabaret, comedy, circus, dance, film, theatre, puppetry, music, visual art and design.

More: Honey Pot - Adelaide Fringe's Asia-Pacific Arts Marketplace

Painting of men walking in a line together

Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture

The importance of the figure in contemporary Chinese art and the vibrant spirit expressed in the work of experimental artists living and working in China inform the exhibition Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture, a collaborative partnership between the National Portrait Gallery and the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, supported by the Australia-China Council.

More: Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture - China's Faces Figures and Transformations

still image from one of the works - pink lights with a blue centre

Experimenta 2012 – Showcasing pioneering media art from Asia

Experimenta, with the support of the Australia China Council presents Shih Chieh Huang's work Slide to Unlock (2012). Shih Chieh Huang creates site-specific installations that feature eco-systems populated with seemingly organic ‘living things’. Fabricated out of common, store-bought materials such as household appliances, zip ties, lights and cheap motorised toys, the works also use dissected and disassembled electronics to create interactive ‘living’ environments and sculptures.

More: Experimenta 2012 – Showcasing pioneering media art from Asia

still image from one of the works - pink lights with a blue centre

Cultural and Artistic Engagement

The Chinese and Australian art communities are increasingly more connected. Cultural exchanges have intensified in the past five years.  The scale and success of the Year of Australian Culture in China (2010-2011) delivered by the Australia International Cultural Council, and the Year of Chinese Culture in Australia (2011-2012) contributed to, and stand as a testament to growing cultural links.

Vibrant and increasingly internationally connected Chinese and Australian artists and art administrators are driving bilateral cultural exchanges.  China’s first foreign-owned private art gallery - Red Gate Gallery, was established in Beijing in 1987 by an Australian, Brian Wallace. 

The Australian Ballet’s 50th Anniversary in 2012 included a performance by China’s National Ballet. The National Portrait Gallery in 2012 hosted the largest exhibition of contemporary Chinese portrait art to be ever held in Australia.  In the last 3 years, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne festivals and Sydney Biennale have incorporated regular performances and exhibitions by Chinese artists. The first Australia-China performing arts co-production, Cho Cho, premiered in China in January 2013 and in Australia in October 2013.

Australian artists and cultural organisations have significantly ramped up their engagement with China:  In 2011 and 2013 the biggest exhibitions of Aboriginal art ‘Our Land – Our Body’ to ever tour China drew record crowds across China. In 2012 Sydney Symphony successfully completed a historic six-city tour of China and established a landmark partnership with Guangzhou Xinghai Conservatory of Music.  In 2012 the Australian Centre for Photography presented a major group photography exhibition Making Change, at the prestigious National Art Museum of China, which attracted an extraordinary 90,000 visitors over one month.

The thirteenth Implementation Program for Cultural Exchanges from the years 2013-15 under the bilateral Agreement on Cultural Cooperation (established in 1981) was signed by Hon. Simon Crean, then Minister for the Arts and Chinese Minister for Culture, Dr Cai Wu, in Beijing on 14 December.  The signing reaffirmed the strong cultural exchanges between the two nations.

Cooperation has been further supported in the area of film through Australia’s Co-production Agreement with China.

Australian Writers' Week in China

men  with suitcases, backs to the camera

Australian Writers' Week in China is an annual program of events across Chinese cities introducing contemporary Australian authors to the Chinese readers. The Australian Writers' Week in China is the initiative of the Australian Embassy in Beijing which celebrated its seventh anniversary in 2014.

In 2014 it was held across nine Chinese cities from 9-23 March.

This year's Writers' Week featured a celebration of Australian-Asian literary voices, with events at international literary festivals, bookshops, libraries, schools and universities in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hohhot, Suzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo and Hefei.

The guest authors include celebrated nonfiction author Benjamin Law, award-winning author and illustrator Gabrielle Wang, writer of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, drama and literary criticism, Ali Alizadeh, and Walkley Foundation non-fiction book award winner Pamela Williams.

Another important element of Writers' Week is the Australia-China Publishing Forum, now a well-recognised and popular event on the industry calendars of both countries. In 2014, the Forum featured a focus on digital publishing, and will saw a delegation of Australian publishers travel to Beijing and Anhui Province to engage with top Chinese publishers for briefings, presentations and business matching.

Australian Writers' Week and the Australia-China Publishing Forum are presented by the Australian Embassy Beijing and Australian Consulates-General in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

These events are made possible through the generous support of the partners Copyright Agency Limited and Time Publishing & Media. The Embassy also acknowledges support from the Walkley Foundation, The Bookworm Literary Festival, Capital Literary Festival, the Shanghai International Literary Festival, JUE Music + Art 2014, The Opposite House, and media partners China Publishing and Media Journal, and Shandong TV. The Embassy is also proud to work closely with China's Australian Studies Centre network to bring author events to university students across China.

2014 Australian Writers' Week Booklets:

Australian Writers' Week 2014 booklet [external PDF]

Australian Writers' Week 2014 Events [external PDF]

On the ground and in the know: Victoria-Asia Cultural Engagement Research Report

men  with suitcases, backs to the camera
Photo courtesy of Asialink

  Asialink Arts, with the support of Arts Victoria, launched “The Victoria-Asia Cultural Engagement Research Report”.  The research - the first of its kind in Australia - reveals the diversity, depth and richness of the emerging and established cultural connections between Victorian artists and organisations and their regional counterparts.

The report presents data, best practices and the needs of artists and arts organisations working or seeking to work with Asian counterparts and cultural institutions.  The research provides a wealth of information to help inform policies and strategies to further develop engagement capabilities of the Australian artistic community in building and growing the relations with Asia.

The research also found India, Indonesia and China as priority countries for Victorian cultural organisations’ future engagement with Asia between 2013 and 2017: India received the highest number of nominations at 61%, Indonesia at 60% and China at 58%.

Download Full Report [PDF]

Read the Summary of the report

Visit: Asialink Arts website

Asia Pacific Centre for Arts and Cultural Leadership

21 February 2014

men signing papers

South Australia is set to become an international epicentre for cultural and arts management education with the foundation of the Asia Pacific Centre for Arts and Cultural Leadership.

The Adelaide Festival Centre Trust and the University of South Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish the Centre under a $1.8 million Federal Government grant to fund additional training and exchange programs in South Australia.

The Centre brings together the skills of two South Australian Institutions that are leading the nation in a productive engagement with our region. With a track record for delivering high quality performing arts and cultural events, Adelaide Festival Centre has developed an international reputation for excellence for its programs dedicated to Australian and Asian cultural engagement – in particular the OzAsia Festival and the Moon Lantern Parade.

Also a proud sponsor of the OzAsia Festival, the University of South Australia has strong links across the Asia-Pacific region through its research and teaching and a network of successful alumni in China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and Indonesia. The University also runs one of the oldest Arts and Cultural Management education programs in Australia and its graduates work across the country and the region. Leading lights such as UniSA graduate Luquiang Qiao, Deputy Director of the Executive Coordination Office for Beijing's National Centre for Performing Arts, help to promote the inclusion of Australian cultural performances and exhibitions in China.

The Centre will:

  • provide high quality training programs for arts administrators at various levels of seniority from Asia Pacific countries;
  • offering the University of South Australia Master's in Arts and Cultural Management and developing tailored educational offerings in the field of Arts and Cultural Leadership;
  • provide for the placement of interns from the Asia Pacific;
  • develop the Centre as a national hub of Australian-Asia-Pacific cultural engagement based on training, exchange of personnel and artistic presentations;
  • development of research programs in Arts and Cultural Management and Leadership.

Further information about the Centre

The Chinese community in Australia is at the forefront of business, cultural and educational links between the two nations. The community connections date back nearly two centuries when the first settlers from China arrived in Australia, joined by many between 1850 and 1890.

Australia has greatly benefited from the contribution made by people of Chinese heritage. Some prominent Australians of Chinese background include: former Chairman of the Australia-China Council, paediatrician and 1996 Australian of the Year John Yu; Senator Penny Wong; the late Dr Victor Chang, heart surgeon; the late Bing Lee, electronics retailer; John So, former Lord Mayor of Melbourne; and Dr Charles Teo AM, neurosurgeon.

Australian Government Portal -  History of Chinese communities in Australia Chinatowns across Australia

Harvest of Endurance is a 50-metre-long scroll that represents two centuries of Chinese contact with, and emigration to, Australia. Stories of hardship and survival, resourcefulness and reward are painted in the traditional gong bi style.  Artist Mo Xiangyi, assisted by Wang Jingwen, painted the scroll.  Mo Yimei carried out the historical research. The project was sponsored by the Australia–China Friendship Society in celebration of the Australian Bicentenary in 1988. Harvest of Endurance

Chinese New Year celebrations in Australia Chinese New Year

Youth Exchanges

The new generation of Australians and Chinese are forging close professional and personal links through education, business and travel. In the past 5 years a number of exchange platforms and networks emerged that help to connect younger generation of Australians and Chinese.

The Australia-China Youth Association (ACYA) focuses on bilateral dialogues and networks for young people between 18 and 24.  ACYA’s broad mandate is to promote greater engagement between young Chinese and young Australians and is one of four initiatives under the ‘ACYA Group’ umbrella. ACYA operates around three pillars – careers, education, and people-to-people exchange. ACYA

The Australia-China Youth Dialogue (ACYD). ACYD was established in 2009 with the support from the Australia-China Council and Australian National University. The Dialogue promotes frequent and meaningful engagement between young adults in China and Australia who are interested in furthering Australia-China relations. ACYD
Also see the official documentary of the 2012 Dialogue held in Chengdu and Beijing ACYD - 2012 Dialogue

The Australia-China Young Professionals Initiative (ACYPI) - a program of the Australia-China Youth Association - is the premier platform for young professionals in Australia and China to engage with the most significant issues of the bilateral relationship. ACYPI holds events in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Shanghai and Beijing where young professionals aged 22 – 35 can develop a deeper understanding of the issues, opportunities and challenges facing Australia and China. ACYPI

Engaging China Project is a volunteer youth based not-for-profit organisation dedicated to igniting the idea of China in the minds of Australia high school students.

The Engaging China Project sends out ambassadors to high schools to impart their real-world experiences and stories of engaging with China or learning Chinese with students. Engaging China Project Ambassadors have experienced firsthand the amazing opportunities that engaging with China opens up for young people and know well that the future Australia-China relationship lies in the hands of today’s young. In our workshops and online, we tell real stories about what it’s like to start the China adventure. The Program is funded by the Australia-China Council and the ANU Centre for China in the World and supported by the Australia-China Youth Association, Australia-China Young Professionals Initiative and the Australia-China Youth Dialogue. Engaging China Project

ACYA Journal of Australia-China Affairs By Neil Thomas, National Publications Director at the Australia-China Youth Association.

cover of the ACYA journal

The ACYA Journal of Australia-China Affairs (ISSN 2201-0831) is a bilingual peer-reviewed journal co-published by the Australia-China Youth Association and the University of Sydney China Studies Centre (CSC).  The 2013 Third Volume of the annual publication marked the first year of ACYA-CSC cooperation.

The Journal provides a high-quality and high-visibility platform for students, young professionals and researchers to publish academic essays, opinion articles and creative work pertaining to some aspect of Australia and China, in either the English or Chinese language and with the final Journal being completely bilingually translated. It is a unique publication that plays an important role in connecting the voices of Australian and Chinese youth with the broader Australia-China academic and popular discourse, covering a wide variety of topics and writing styles.

The submissions and review process is extensive and rigorous. From over fifty submissions received each year, only the best dozen are then selected for publication. The finest submission in both the English and Chinese academic essay sections is awarded an ACYA Prize for Youth Scholarship.

In 2013, the Journal was officially launched on 29 November at the closing event of the Annual Conference of the University of Sydney China Studies Centre, which featured a roundtable discussion between CSC academics and Journal authors on the published works, chaired by CSC Executive Director Kerry Brown.

For more information about the ACYA Journal of Australia-China Affairs, or to inquire about making a submission or becoming involved in the ACYA Journal Sub-Committee, please email Neil Thomas, Executive Editor, at

Read the 2013 edition of the Journal [external PDF]

Read previous editions

performers wearing yellow costumes with a large red paper dragon, celebrating in the street
Chinese New Year celebrations in Sydney, 2012 (Photo courtesy of the Sydney City Council)

Facts and Figures

China is now Australia's second-largest source of skilled migrants: 10,000 skilled migrants in the year to February 2013

Source: China Country Strategy

China is our second largest source of visitor arrivals: 626,000 tourist arrivals in 2012

Source:DFAT – China Brief

In the past 5 years, virtually all leading Australian cultural institutions have established Chinese art programs or collaborations with Chinese counterparts.

Source: Australia-China Council

Students stood outside a Chinese builiding holding an ACYD 2012 banner
Australia-China Youth Dialogue 2012 – Beijing (Photo courtesy of the Australia-China Youth Dialogue)

Grants and Funding

Mobility Funding Guides is an initiative by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), through its online portal, mapping funding opportunities for international cultural exchange in 19 countries in Asia.

Asialink's Arts Residency Program (supported by the Australia-China Council) provides in-country professional development opportunities for arts professionals working across art form, in exchange for the sharing of skills, knowledge and networks with local host communities.

The Australian Arts in Asia Awards celebrate the important role Australian artists and arts organizations play in enhancing Australia's relationship with Asia.  The Awards recognize, celebrate and promote the significant number of Australian artists engaging with Asia, who contributes to stronger, deeper and broader cultural links with Asia.

The Australia China Art Foundation (ACAF) was established to promote understanding, generate a vital network of creative exchange and build a reciprocal awareness of each other’s cultures and values.  ACAF is dedicated to the promotion of Australian and Chinese contemporary art and the integration of art and the community. It does this by facilitating reciprocal and meaningful cross-cultural exchange and relationship development between artists, collectors, institutions and social programs in Australia and China.

Australia’s Cultural Institutions

Poster advertising the mobility funding guidelines

New Local


New Local from Asialink Video on Vimeo.

'New Local' profiles the opportunities for exchange, artistic exploration, connections and collaborations facilitated and developed through Asialink Arts. Featuring visual artists', musicians, arts managers, writers and performing artists, the film provides an insight into the creative process and motivations which develop through the experience of cultural exchange within Asia.

Through interviews, artworks, performances and in country documentation the diversity of artistic outcomes and the importance of collaborative relationships unfold.

Featuring Dylan Martorell / Alex Cuffe / Craig Walsh and Hiromi Tango / Chris Cobilis / Alicia King / Kate Ben Tovim / Leanne Hall / Louise Partos / Kosuke Ikeda

Last Updated: 7 August 2017
photo of a 'Go Figure' billboard at the National Portrait Gallery
'Go Figure – Contemporary Chinese Portraiture Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 2012 (Photo courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery)