Christchurch Arts Festival’s New Dynamic Duo announced
For Immediate Release
Christchurch Arts Festival Trust Board is very pleased to announce the appointment of new Artistic Director, Dr. George Parker and CEO, Clare Wilkinson. Together they will refine and implement a dynamic and fresh approach to Christchurch’s historic festival that will
demonstrate the region’s innovative creativity through dynamic interdisciplinary work and engaging large-scale
The Christchurch Arts Festival is recognised as a longstanding and much-loved local artistic institution that primarily
serves the people of Christchurch, Canterbury, and the South Island. Following a recent review of the organisation, the
Trust has a renewed focus on reinvigorating the Festival for 2019.
The task of building the new Festival programme will sit with George Parker, best known for his work with influential contemporary theatre company Free Theatre. Parker is motivated by the
opportunity to guide the festival in a new direction and to expand its diversity and reach. “We have an extraordinary
creative whakapapa here – artists, innovators, boundary-breakers and it’s this spirit that should inspire the city”.
The new leadership team hopes to increase and support the development of original works within the Festival, and to see
established work reimagined in the context of the Festival. It aims to create a Festival that is exhilarating, relevant
and engaging, as well as uplifting, challenging and illuminating. “Through the Festival we seek to reflect and speak to
our city, communities, and region in the context of twenty-first century Aotearoa” said both Parker and Wilkinson
Parker describes the new approach as a response to an evolving city, “This is a place that needs to both celebrate and
explore who we are by engaging the talented local artists and producers of this place. We can create experiences that
are unique and distinct and attract innovative national and international artists that are excited by the challenge of
working with us in this exceptional environment”.
Ensuring a strong and sustainable future for the city’s premiere festival, new CEO Clare Wilkinson will oversee development, funding and sponsorship. An experienced and dedicated innovator in the education, charity and
business sectors, Wilkinson has a proven track record in strategic planning, funding, sponsorship and event management.
Wilkinson sees an exciting opportunity to enhance the city’s well-being, as well as the social and economic development
of the region, “Christchurch is a gateway to the region and the South Island, it’s exciting to explore what is relevant
to Christchurch right now and look forward to what we could be”.
“We are pursuing excellence and building a world class festival anchored here in Christchurch, that provides experiences
that are unique and distinct for our people, while attracting new interest in the festival and opportunities for local
Chair of the Christchurch Arts Festival Trust Board, Dr. Jane Gregg is excited about the new energy and vision that
Parker and Wilkinson bring to the festival. “This is a city that is constantly asking what it wants to be, so it is
fitting that this festival, with such a long and important history in the city, should help lead dynamic conversations
about who we are through our wide and varied creative communities”. She says that the new team to lead the Festival will
work to deliver experiences that are highly engaged, relevant and forward-looking. A core aim of the festival is to
build new relationships with diverse audiences.