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AUSTRALIAN ARTS GROWTH SPURT IN THE UK

The who’s who of the UK arts scene will attend the launch tonight of Undergrowth – Australian Arts UK 2006 at the Australian High Commission in London.

Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom the Hon Richard Alston and the Australia Council for the Arts will host big names from the Australian and UK arts such as Vicente Todoli, Director, Tate Modern; Ruth Borthwick, Head of Literature at London’s Southbank Centre; Louise Jeffreys, Head of Theatre at the Barbican; Timothy Walker, Director, London Philharmonic Orchestra; Robyn Archer, Artistic Director Liverpool Festival and Ricky Swallow, Australia’s representative at the Venice Biennale 2005. Directors from some of the UK’s largest festivals–Bath, Salisbury and London Design Festivals – and venues such as Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Hay on Wye will also attend. In the spotlight at the program launch will be the strong line-up of Australian arts organisations touring the UK in 2006.

They include performing arts companies Bangarra Dance Theatre with Bush, Company B Belvoir with Page 8, Bell Shakespeare Company with The Comedy of Errors, and Arena, one of Australia’s leading theatre for young people, in a co-production with Manchester’s Contact Theatre.

Musical highlights include the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and a residency by the ELISION Ensemble. The Alister Spence Trio presents its formidable contemporary jazz experience on tour while a number of Australia’s hottest established and emerging bands will feature at Manchester’s In The City convention.

The visual arts are represented with some of Australia’s most progressive installation and video artists such as Lynette Wallworth and George Poonkhin Khut at venues across the UK including Bristol’s Arnolfini, which is also host to Breathing Space, featuring a number of Australian hybrid performance/visual artists. Australian artists pioneering exceptional new media work are introduced in the Experimenta Under the Radar tour. COLLECT at the Victoria & Albert Museum showcases some of Australia’s most innovative craft practitioners including Mel Douglas, Amanda Shelsher, Prue Venables, Bruce Nuske and Khai Liew and Julie Blyfield.

The two-year Undergrowth promotion generated strong demand for Australian contemporary arts during 2005, when it featured such companies as The Australian Ballet, Australian Dance Theatre, Sydney Dance Company, Australian Theatre for Young People and Legs on the Wall. This year’s program is forecast to produce similar outcomes for the Australian arts.

Australia Council for the Arts CEO Jennifer Bott says: ‘Undergrowth is a great opportunity for developing discourse between two countries that share a curiosity about and passion for each other’s arts scene. Beyond the fantastic exhibitions and performances, Undergrowth will have a long-term benefit, providing myriad opportunities for continuing dialogue and collaborations.’

Later this month, Australian artists keen to enter the UK market will have another opportunity to showcase their talents to UK presenters when the largest ever UK delegation arrives in Adelaide for the 7th Australian Performing Arts Market.

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