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ARTS AND ASHES BOWL OVER THE UK

World-class Australian touring groups will be heading to the UK this year, and it won’t be in defence of the Ashes. More than 20 major Australian arts events will be touring across the UK at some of the country’s most prestigious venues and festivals in 2005.

A collection of Australia’s highest profile arts companies, including the Australian Ballet, Circus Oz and Sydney Dance Company will be part of Undergrowth – Australian Arts UK 2005, one of the largest presentations of Australian contemporary film, literature, performing and visual arts to be held in the UK.

Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs, said: ‘Undergrowth presents some of Australia’s most celebrated arts companies and artists. Many are making substantial inroads into key international markets, like the UK, as a result of Australia Council and Australia International Cultural Council support.

‘The strategy is to increase demand for Australian contemporary work by building strong and effective relationships with key international festival directors, venue programmers, curators, promoters and presenters.’

According to Jennifer Bott, Australia Council CEO, ‘Australian artists and companies have been consistently winning praise in the UK.

‘The time is right for us to build on this interest in Australian work to ensure long-term artistic engagement for our artists in the UK and in Europe more broadly.’

Undergrowth will feature emerging and well-established arts companies presenting new work. It includes a strong line-up of innovative Australian dance and physical theatre, which already has attracted sell-out UK audiences following highly successful tours by Australian Dance Theatre and Legs on the Wall earlier this year.

Highlights of Undergrowth – Australian Arts UK 2005 include:

  • The Touring Australian Film Festival – 1 April-17 June 2005: Fifteen of the latest Australian feature films, including Somersault and the Oscar nominated animation Birthday Boy, will tour the UK.
  • The Australian Ballet, Swan Lake, Cardiff and London 13-24 July: The critically acclaimed, multiple award-winning production of Swan Lake, choreographed by Graeme Murphy, at the Wales Millennium Centre and the London Coliseum.
  • Object Design Exhibition Global Local, V&A Museum September-December: An exhibition reflecting the distinctive qualities and idiosyncrasies of Australian design, and presenting the personal stories of 12 contemporary Australian designers working in various media, including glass, fashion, furniture and jewellery.
  • Circus Oz, 28 July-13 November: Eccentric, zany and completely unpredictable, Circus Oz is an electrifying mix of daredevil stunts, tongue in cheek humour and high-octane entertainment bursting with imagination and adventure.
    Circus Oz first toured to the UK in 1980.  Over the last twenty-five years the company has returned to the UK seven times.  Linda Mickleborough, General Manager said: ‘We have been amazed at the following that the company has attracted.  During our 2004 London season we met people who had first seen us at London’s Roundhouse in 1980.  We are really looking forward to our 2005 season and the chance to re-connect with our loyal fans and meet our new audience members.’
  • Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design will show it’s first major presentation of contemporary Australian design work in the UK. Director, Steven Pozel said: ‘Over the years Object has continued to encourage the creative flow between Australia and the UK to deepen the understanding of Australia’s excellence in the area of design. Now, with Global Local’s tour to the Victoria and Albert Museum, UK audiences can catch their first glimpse of the freshness, vitality and richness that characterises new Australian design.’

Undergrowth – Australian Arts UK is a two-year contemporary arts promotion program in the UK in 2005 and 2006. This program is an initiative of the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Australia International Cultural Council, an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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