Through the Cherish Fund, the Australia Council has delivered $1.4 million to First Nations arts organisations and artists.
As most organisations were preparing to close for the end of year break, the Australia Council made a significant announcement.
It has invested $1.4m in 37 organisations through the Cherish Fund, which was established to invest in First Nations arts and culture during a year of extraordinary disruption.
Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Lydia Miller said: ‘2020 has been a year of disruption, but it has also been a year of reflection, listening, creative thinking and finding new ways of connecting through our weekly online rountables.’
During 2020 the Australia Council conducted weekly First Nations Roundtables, attended by more than 3000 people, and provided the sector with consultation that lead to the Cherish Fund.
A report produced from the Roundtables states: Australia’s First Nations arts and culture sector faces particularly devastating impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic including potential for the most significant loss of arts, culture and language since the arrival of the First Fleet.’
It estimates that First Nations tourism has an estimated value of $5.8 billion annually, pre pandemic.
‘This investment through Cherish offers hope for 2021 and beyond. It will support our senior First Nations cultural custodians and knowledge holders, continued creation, digital adaptation and sustainability business models for First Nations artists and cultural groups, to ensure the continued flourishing and sustainability of First Nations arts and culture,’ Miller continued.
The sector consultations identified key priority areas, informing four streams of investment:
- Living Libraries (supporting cultural knowledge and intergenerational collaborations)
- Creative Workforce (supporting artworkers in a digital world)
- Creative Practice (supporting artistic creative expression)
- Creative Entrepreneurship (supporting business models to expand the applicant’s practice)
The Australia Council received a total of 228 applications across both rounds of the Cherish Fund.
What and Who are leading Living Libraries?
Living Libraries acknowledges the vulnerability of communities and the need to support elders to ensure the continuation of intergenerational stories and knowledge.
Among the cultural groups to receive support were: Yamaji Art (WA) for the two-year program Wirnan Legacy empowering Yamaji communities to maintain Yamaji languages through the delivery of intergenerational art and cultural activities.
Also supported was Durrmu Arts Aboriginal Corporation (NT) for a project celebrating intergenerational cultural knowledge; Raukkan Community Council (SA); Numbulwar Numburindi Arts t/u Numburindi Corporation (NT); Julalikari Council Aboriginal Corporation (NT) for their project Ngijinkirri, and Tjuma Pulka Aboriginal Corporation (WA) for traditional preservation methods of ancient punu (wood) carvings.
Other recipients were: Walter Waia for SANAW BARISAL (FOOTSTEPS) (QLD), artists Djambawa Marawili (NT), Rachel Perkins (NSW), Lola Greeno (TAS), curator Genevieve Grieves (VIC) and Patricia Torres (WA).
Building a Creative Workforce and Entrepreneur
The need to think ‘outside the box’ and extend work practice modes and methods was demonstrated overwhelmingly in 2020. With this in mind, seven Creative Workforce Grants have been awarded with the aim to assist arts workers to transform their work for the digital space.
Among them are Moogahlin Performing Arts (NSW), which was supported for their digital content strategy MOOGAHL LIVE; First Nations Media Association (also known as Indigenous Remote Communications Association, NT) for their digital archiving collection project.
Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) (NT) will support the transformation of its music department, assisting its long-term term goal of becoming a sustainable record label, studio and artist service run by and for First Nations artists and art workers.
Also support are: South Australian First Nations Writers for their Digital Innovation project (SA); Indigenous Art Centre Alliance (QLD); Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation – Arts Ceduna (SA); Maruku Arts (NT) and Edoardo Crismani (SA).
Creative Entrepreneur Grants are designed to support new business models and ensure the long-term sustainability of careers for artists and art workers.
One of the groups supported via this stream is Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education & Training (NSW), who will developing a business model for a First Nations-owned and controlled on-line social enterprise that aggregates, distributes and sells culturally appropriate First Nations Australia literature and educational resources.
Also supported in this category were: Naretha Wiliams (VIC) for the Groundstar Music Record Label Start Up Proposal; Gaba Musik (OLD) to establish an Indigenous music publishing company, and Ngarrimili (QLD) to support creative enterprise during the COVID recovery.
The Cherish Fund also supports individual artists to be given time for deep thinking and innovation.
The Creative Practice Grant Recipients are:
- Jessie Lloyd (VIC) to develop a book on historical Aboriginal land Torres Strait Islander music
- Katina Olsen (QLD) with Preparing Ground a contemporary dance collaboration
- Carol McGregor (QLD) towards a major exhibition at Artspace Sydney
- The Jo Ze Sparks Pty Ltd (VIC) for the GUBAL THAYEMIN PROJECT (The Winds of Change)
- Richard Bell (QLD) for the ‘EMBASSY’ Kochi Biennale and Tate: website and podcast to archive First Nations voices
- Mykaela Saunders (NSW) for Blackfella Futurism – envisioning sovereign First Nations futures
- Bulabunmarra Projects Pty Ltd (NSW) for the project about Lost Eora objects with the Palais de Tokyo, Malmaison and Artspace
- Moondani Balluk Academic Unit Victoria University (VIC)
- Jodie Kell (NSW)
- Sonny Townson (NSW)
- Gina McGill (WA)
- Short Black Opera Company Pty Ltd (VIC)
- Ninuku Arts Indigenous Corporation (NT)
- Fiona Foley (QLD)
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