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Forty artist scholarships on offer for groundbreaking conference

Written by Kate Powell for The Big Idea, 4 December 2019

“People don’t have time to listen to anyone anymore,” Lemi Ponifasio tells me in a crowded Auckland cafe humming with happy hour enthusiasts. “The problem we have is our lack of depth. We need to listen to each other deeply. To hear from the depths of other people’s experiences.”

Lemi is an artist who defies easy categorisation. He is a choreographer, dancer, director and designer, and now, one of the three guest curators for the New Zealand Festival of the Arts. So far, our conversation has traversed a myriad of topics from youth suicide, the art market and technology, to the problems he sees with New Zealand culture. 

“It’s not good,” he reflects. “Why do we have homeless people? Racism? Mosque shootings? We need to make people understand that culture is anything we make; it’s human. Culture is not just song and dance. It’s the mode, it's the frame by which we live and work.”

We need to talk 

His concern for the current cultural landscape is what spurred him to use his role at the New Zealand Festival of the Arts to curate its first-ever conference, one he hopes will spark both “critical conversations and deep listening.” Entitled Talanoa Mau - we need to talk, it presents an opportunity to place culture, art and community at the centre of discussions around what kind of society we want to live in. Attendees will hear from international and local artists along with leaders, researchers and visionaries over two days on February 24 and 25 at Te Papa. 


Forty artist scholarships on offer for groundbreaking conference

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