OzAsia Festival reaches international audience with new online talks series

Annette Shun Wah. Photo courtesy of Adelaide Festival Centre.
Annette Shun Wah. Photo courtesy of Adelaide Festival Centre.

Contemporary artists and arts professionals from across Asia will share their stories with a worldwide audience for OzAsia Talks, a series of critical conversations presented by Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival.

Programmed and hosted by recently appointed OzAsia Festival Artistic Director Annette Shun Wah, the innovative new online series will feature panel discussions, artist profiles and poetry performances.

From October 20 to November 3, OzAsia Festival will post the talks to its Facebook page, including In Conversation interviews with Helpmann Award-winning playwright S. Shakthidharan and renowned Singaporean theatre director Ong Keng Sen. 

Panel discussionswill bring together cultural leaders from a diverse range of backgrounds – everyone from Jing Han, a subtitler for Chinese reality TV show If You Are the One; to Anchuli Felicia King, an exciting Thai-Australian artist whose debut last year saw three plays staged in major theatres around the world.

OzAsia Festival Artistic Director Annette Shun Wah said, “In a year when so much has happened to shift the way in which individuals and communities connect with each other, the cultural engagement of Australia and Asia could not be more crucial. The arts play a vital role in deepening this engagement, but the pandemic has had far-reaching impacts on artistic practice and thinking. OzAsia Talks is an opportunity to share experiences and new ideas from artists and arts leaders in our region.”

The series will launch on October 20, with a live event for an invited audience at the redeveloped Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, where Shun Wah will be joined on stage by Art Gallery of South Australia Director Rhana Devenport ONZM and international panellists via video link.

OzAsia Talks (Live) will be livestreamed on Facebook and is supported by a grant from Multicultural Affairs, Department of Premier and Cabinet. It will include a special introduction from OzAsia Festival Patron and Governor of South Australia, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, who said, “Despite many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the OzAsia Festival is continuing its quest to promote arts and culture. I’m delighted to see the festival using creative ways to reach out to the broader audience and artists. This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate cultural diversity and artistic excellence in new and exciting ways.”

Other OzAsia Festival 2020 activities include Indian dance workshops with Mudra Dance Academy for local school students later this month. Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre’s centrED program, the workshops were made possible thanks to the work of the Adelaide Festival Centre Foundation and with the generous support of the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall welcomed the news that OzAsia Festival would host an online offering in 2020. “OzAsia Festival is a highlight of South Australia’s annual events calendar, and it is one of our most significant celebrations of our state’s multicultural communities. I am very impressed with the diverse program of enlightening discussions the festival has lined up for OzAsia Talks. These conversations will provide an important insight into how arts organisations from different countries are responding to the unique challenges they face.”

OzAsia Festival is Australia’s leading contemporary arts festival engaging with Asia. Last year’s festival attracted 200,000 attendances across a range of sold-out shows and popular free events. The 2019 program featured 60 events – including five world-first performances and 22 Australian premieres – presented by 850 artists from more than 20 countries.

Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM said, “We know how much everyone looks forward to OzAsia Festival each year. It plays such a vital role in championing contemporary artists and enhancing Australia’s social, cultural and economic relationship with Asia. Although we cannot present a full program this year, OzAsia Talks will allow us to connect with our loyal audiences while also engaging with viewers from all over the world. This is a fabulous digital re-imagining of OzAsia Festival in a year when our relationships within a global community are more important than ever before. We hope to welcome back larger audiences to ticketed performances and the Moon Lantern Parade at Adelaide Festival Centre in 2021.”

OzAsia Talks can be viewed at www.facebook.com/ozasiafestival and on the OzAsia Festival website, where the full program of events is also available.

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