Shona McCullagh establishing new dance company — 06.09.11

Shona McCullagh (Laureate), Founding Artistic Director of the New Zealand Dance Company has just received a major boost with news that the Company will receive a Creative New Zealand funding commitment of $500,000 per annum over the next two years.

Laureate Shona McCullagh and Founding Artistic Director of the New Zealand Dance Company has just received a major boost with news that the Company will be recognised through a Creative New Zealand funding commitment of $500,000 per annum over the next two years.  Funding is for a national dance company providing permanent jobs for dancers, other artists and arts managers. The Auckland based New Zealand Dance Company is now firmly on track to be launched next year. The vision is for the company to become fulltime by 2014 and have a permanent Auckland home.

McCullagh, who is choreographing the RWC opening ceremony in Auckland on  Friday 9 September, says New Zealand and international research shows that dance is the fastest growing art form in the world.

"Research conducted in 2009 shows that more New Zealanders dance than play rugby," she says.

"Whether it's hip hop or haka, talented New Zealand dance practitioners are making a powerful mark on world stages, but there have been few opportunities to find permanent employment and extend their craft at home," she says.

"This funding means we have the capacity to provide professional opportunities for brilliant New Zealand dancers and choreographers, help nurture up and coming performers, and grow new audiences for fresh and relevant contemporary dance," she says.

McCullagh noted the significant investment Creative New Zealand has made this year across the art form.

"The solid support that many dance companies have been given this year is particularly exciting to us," she says. "There has been much whooping and skipping in celebration of CNZ in the dance sector over the last 24 hours."

"Our company is one in a landscape of movement in Aotearoa and we look forward to promoting collaborative relationships across the sector, working together to promote fresh thinking, and to help build national and international audiences for New Zealand dance."

The Creative New Zealand funding represents a critical cornerstone partnership for the New Zealand Dance Company, however, McCullagh acknowledged the strength of support the Trust has enjoyed from a wide range of sponsors and contributors through its early foundation stage.

Foundation supporters have included Creative New Zealand, STAMP/The Edge, DANZ, Designworks, John McDermott Photography, Soirée, ASB Community Trust and Unitec, together with important contributions from The Great Catering Company, Antipodes, Langton Hudson Butcher, Two Rooms, ARA Wines, 5 Digital and Belgian contemporary dance company, Rosas.

McCullagh says the Trust's next important milestone is to secure a major sponsor for the launch of the company, which will enable it to deliver a youth engagement strategy in tandem with the public premiere season in 2012.