Cultural Engagement

Just before the Adelaide Festival Centre’s 2014 season was launched, Artistic Director and CEO Douglas Gautier was named the Chair of the Asia-Pacific’s peak cultural body, which will enhance Adelaide’s standing as a cultural hub.

Gautier will be the Chair of the Association of the Asia Pacific Performing Arts Centres (AAPAC) for the next three years. AAPAC is a body consisting of 67 members from the biggest arts centres in the Asia-Pacific region. The Festival Centre – with festivals including OzAsia and the recent Cabaret Festival Roadshow in Hong Kong, as well as various cultural exchange programs – is a leader in engaging with this exciting and evolving cultural market. “It’s a big recognition of the reputation and position of the Centre and the position of the city in terms of it being the preeminent festival city in this country,” Gautier explains. “When it comes back to the Centre, we wouldn’t have been entrusted with this position unless we really earned our stripes over the last few years. That’s not only due to the programming work with our collaborators but most importantly it’s because of our connections with Asia. OzAsia is clearly one but then we have solidly committed to intern programs, which we fund largely through our foundation, such as the Hawke Program and our work with the Australia Council on the Korean Internship Program, and diverse other programs.” AAPAC has been based in Singapore for the last 10 years and the Centre might bid for the 2016 conference. Gautier says the chairmanship will allow him to “leverage it to the advantage of this centre, this city and the community in terms of hooking into the extraordinary development that is going on in that part of the world in terms of cultural centres, arts and society”. In terms of programming, Gautier says the Asian engagement work will be spread out across the year and not just limited to OzAsia in years to come. “There’s so much going on in that region. It’s just massive. It’s a huge opportunity to be part of it. There are so many fascinating things that are happening up there. I want us to be able to show that to not only the Adelaide public, but if we take the view this is an Australian hub for Asia cultural engagement, then we are able to use this place as a platform to showcase work to the rest of Australia.” OzAsia’s 2014 headliner Tan Dun is one of those artists. The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon composer is part of the AFC’s major focus on music for the 2014 season. “We are blessed with some wonderful musicians, so we are trying to give them more of a platform,” Gautier explains. “We are simply trying to bring more music into the centre; if you look at the Live Performance Australian website there’s no question where the appetite is for audiences and it is music. We think we’ve got a special responsibility there clearly through the Guitar Festival, the Cabaret Festival and OzAsia. We are strongly focused on music in those areas and we are supporting that with our relationship with the ASO, for instance. Tan Dun is coming back next year – that’s a major connection. He’s one of the world’s major contemporary composers.” Other major music announcements for 2014 include January’s eclectic Sessions program, composer Ludovico Einaudi, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Lior & Westlake, a series of cocktail concerts with local Niki Vasilakis and the return of Operamania. Dance also features heavily next year with Lina Limosani’s A Delicate Situation, Australian Dance Theatre’s Multiverse, Daniel Jaber’s Reassessment, The Oracle and The Australian Ballet’s Cinderella. “Dance is important for us. If we could bring the Australian Ballet here twice a year I would do it, and we are talking. “Ballet is the only artform I can think of that is truly multi-generational. We did a survey and about 70 percent of people in the auditorium have actually participated in the artform. When you start to unpack it, including the myriad of ballet schools in this city and across the nation, it’s a big deal. That’s why when the Australian Ballet comes here they sell out.” With the Riverside Project, Gautier says the Festival Centre may introduce pop up events to attract a new audience as well as more events using the Centre’s outdoor areas. “We are looking at it in different ways. With Cabaret we have done it and OzAsia is pushing that inside-out philosophy that South Bank follows in London as well. The bridge and the fact that, at least on the weekends, we are going to have a lot more people in the vicinity, is an opportunity.”

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