Auckland Festival Trust has today announced that well-known New Zealand choreographer, cross-platform artist and arts industry leader Shona McCullagh (MNZM) has been appointed as Artistic Director of Auckland Arts Festival.

Shona McCullagh

The appointment follows a national and international search over the last few months. Shona takes up the position from March 2020 and will lead the programming of the 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 festivals. The 2020 Festival is the third and final festival programmed by Artistic Director Jonathan Bielski.

In making the appointment, Trust Chair John Judge said the board conducted an extensive search for a candidate who would continue to deliver a Festival to meet Auckland’s diverse communities.

“We were delighted with the calibre of candidates who were attracted to the role and are very pleased to be appointing Shona. Shona is highly regarded in the New Zealand arts industry and well known as a visionary. She is an Aucklander and has a strong understanding of the Auckland market.”

Shona has a background in dance as a dancer and choreographer and 10 years ago she co-founded The New Zealand Dance Company and as its Chief Executive/Artistic Director, she has established NZDC on the global dance landscape. Shona is an Arts Laureate and has a long history of collaboration with other art forms, creating extensive work for theatre, television and film.

“I am truly honoured to have been chosen to passionately serve the artists, audience and communities of Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa,” Shona said.

“I look forward to working with the incredible team and Board at AAF and collaborating with festivals, venues and artists in Aotearoa and around the world. I am truly grateful to my present and past whānau and arts tribe for the gifts and knowledge they have shared with me, and their support of my journey."

Chief Executive David Inns said he was looking forward to working with Shona on the next phase of Auckland Arts Festival.

“Shona has had a long association with Auckland Arts Festival over the years and I personally look forward to her joining me as the leadership team and working with New Zealand and international artists to deliver a distinct programme of shows and events for this vibrant city.”

New Zealand Dance Advancement Trust Chair Sharon van Gulik said the Board, team and dancers of The New Zealand Dance Company are delighted for Shona in being appointed to this role.

“Shona has built a legacy arts company that employs full time dancers, creates exquisite work of and for Aotearoa, and has hugely impacted the lives and professional standards of so many dancers, choreographers, designers and arts professionals.

“We will miss Shona hugely, but wish her all the very best in this important leadership role within the New Zealand arts community.”

Auckland Arts Festival is Auckland’s premier multi-arts annual festival of New Zealand and international arts. The globally recognised event celebrates people and culture, and showcases the unrivalled location, cultural diversity and vibrant energy of New Zealand’s largest city.

Auckland Arts Festival is pleased to acknowledge the support from Sheffield Consulting, who led the search for the new Artistic Director.

Auckland Arts Festival receives core funding from Auckland Council and Creative New Zealand.

Image: John McDermott

Read Shona's bio here