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Talkwrite – a reboot

Renee Liang. Photo credit: Rosetta Allan
We welcome back columnist, Renee Liang, who will be bringing to light challenges, ideas and opinions from across the arts sector.


When I first started writing for The Big Idea in 2008, it was with the modest idea that I’d be sharing my experiences as I found my way through this nebulous thing called an arts career. As I wrote back then, “I aim to talk about some of the things I see and think about, and also figure out (rather publicly) some things about being an 'emerging artist'."

As time flowed by my contributions to The Big Idea took on other forms. I’ve written from the sidelines at festivals and gone backstage at touring shows. I’ve taken full advantage of the fact that being a contributor for The Big Idea allows me to approach artists making cool stuff under the guise of publicising their work (but really it’s because I want to find out their secrets and learn for myself.)  I hope I’ve been open to being approached, too.

But all this has taken me away from the original reason for the Talkwrite column. In recent years, I’ve written very little about my own processes, though I’ve been making plenty and thinking a lot about the way the arts ecology operates. Like most things, this is changing very quickly. I believe that the more we talk and write about it, the more able we are to solve challenges, to collaborate, and to form a community (notice how I dropped in those trendy C words?) 

But seriously, I’ve found a lot of pleasure in trading ideas and debate whenever I get together with fellow arts makers. It might not be easy, but understanding the push and pull of forces (funders vs artists; programmers vs makers; and so on) helps us work together instead of against each other.

So this is me turning back to my original purpose. For the next little while, I’ll be doing less artist interviews and more talking/writing on some of the challenges facing us in our creative lives. I’ll be writing unashamedly from my little corner of the universe, so please feel free to suggest topics I haven’t yet seen. I’ll be opinionated, but I’ll also feature ideas and opinion from those who know more than me. From the role of indigenous language in theatre productions to who should be funded to tell the stories, I aim to respond to current happenings in our world. Hope you’ll be up for the conversation.

Written by

Renee Liang

4 Jul 2017

Renee is a writer who is exploring many ways of telling stories, including plays, short stories, poetry (which she also performs), and cross-genre collaborations with composers, musicians, sculptors and filmmakers.

Renee (right) doing open mic with sister Rhea, circa 1976.
"It’s a complex and loaded business making work in other languages, even if they’re your own." Renee Liang on her personal journey with languages in the arts.
"Arts festivals are a great way of reaching new audiences – it’s three weeks of buzz, arty saturation or marketing and media, and targeted outreach." Le Grand Continental - opening night of New Zealand Festival 2016 in Wellington. Photo / Clayton Gould
Renee Liang celebrates the start of arts festival season, with major festivals hitting Auckland and Wellington at the same time this year.
Renee Liang interviews the man she had a schoolgirl nerd-crush on, one of NZ's greatest scientists Ernest Rutherford, as brought to life by Nic Sampson.
Art in Action is an evolution of the school fair with patrons donating money to participate in art classes. Renee Liang talks to one of the organisers, Meiling Lee.