1 May 2001

Regional Leap

A renewed engagement with Asia was the pitch when the heavy hitters of art and capital congregated at the Art Gallery of New South Wales today (Wednesday). They were there to hear former PM, Paul Keating, officially launch the Institute of Asian Culture and Visual Arts, or VisAsia,.
With its headquarters in Sydney, and corporate backers like IBM and Malaysian construction giant IPOH Garden, the peak body is promising a ‘great leap forward’ in cultural co-operation throughout the region.
In a quest to develop new audiences for art and new sources of corporate funding, VisAsia will pool the resources of the AGNSW’s own Asian Art Department with those of other major public galleries in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China, South Korea, and Vietnam.
The unique model is the initiative of AGNSW director, Edmund Capon, and prominent trustee and 1996 Australian of the Year, Dr John Yu, who will serve as VisAsia’s first chairman.
Capon said VisAsia will provide the new Asian Art Gallery (opening early 2003, part of a $13 million re-development) with a steady stream of quality exhibitions from partners like the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore.
Capon said he had personally invited Keating to appear because of the latter's ability to "send a message”.
“Our political body language toward the region in recent times has not been what you would call warm,” he said.

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First published in The Bulletin

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