The Australia Council for the Arts is supporting two delegations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to North America next week to share Indigenous stories, build networks and showcase their work to international audiences.
Australia Council Director International Development Collette Brennan will lead an impressive performing arts delegation to the 48th Annual Western Arts Alliance (WAA) Conference in Vancouver, while the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network (FNAWN) will take leading writers to the 15th Anniversary Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington DC and to meet writing organisations in New York.
Ms Brennan said the WAA conference provided an important platform for Australian performing artists to reach valuable international markets and audiences.
“More than 200 North American presenters will converge at the WAA conference and engage with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegation,” Ms Brennan said.
“With showcases by Black Arm Band, Djuki Mala and Ilbijerri, alongside other Australian organisations such as Performing Lines, Sydney Festival and Marregku, the Indigenous contingent is sure to impress with its high quality, contemporary presentation of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts.”
Ilbijerri Theatre Company Artistic Director Rachael Maza said the Australian delegation at WAA was the culmination of work the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing arts sector had been doing with the Australia Council to build the sectors’ international engagement and visibility.
“At WAA our sector will not only generate important market development activity but also significant network development with other First Nations peers across Canada, the USA and New Zealand,” Ms Maza said.
“It’s the first time we have had a delegation of this scale for Indigenous arts in North America and Ilbijerri is proud to be showcasing Jack Charles V The Crown as a representation of the best of Australia’s contemporary Indigenous performing arts.”
Australia Council Executive Director Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Lydia Miller said the First Nations Australia Writers Network had been a great success and she was delighted to see them seeking new audiences and opportunities in the US.
“First Nations writers around Australia built this network and these opportunities from their own initiative and direction and we salute them. The Australia Council is proud to support this important organisation and this trip to the US to extend their reach in the North American market,” Ms Miller said.
FNAWN Executive Director Cathie Craigie will be joined by Indigenous writers Bruce Pascoe, Dr Tony Birch, Ellen Van Neerven, Dr Jeanine Leane, Dr Jared Thomas and Dub Leffler in Washington DC and New York.
The National Book Festival is a significant event, attracting a huge audience of readers and a large cross section of writers. After the festival the writers will go to New York where they will meet and present to important literary organisations, including The Authors’ Guild and Poets House.
FNAWN Executive Director Cathy Craigie said the invitation to the US was important international recognition of the talent and diversity of First Nations Australian writing.
“There has been an incredible response from our peers and colleagues in the US. We will be meeting with First Nations United States writers and organisations as well as critical players in the US Book market,” Ms Craigie said.
Preserving, celebrating and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts is a strategic priority for the Australia Council. This initiative also delivers on the Council’s commitment to enable Australian artists to develop their practice and markets through international partnerships and an increased global profile.