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Three leaders in community arts and cultural development have been recognised by the Australia Council for the Arts at an annual awards ceremony held in Sydney last night.

Australia Council Chair, Rupert Myer AM and Chief Executive Officer, Tony Grybowski presented the Community Arts and Cultural Development Awards, which celebrate practitioners who make a difference to their communities through their work.

The major award recipients for 2013 are:

  • Dr Paula Abood received the Ros Bower Award for artists with a proven record of high achievement in community arts and cultural development, with an emphasis on the philosophies and principles of equality, respect, and diversity.
  • Sarah Emery received the Kirk Robson Award which recognises outstanding leadership from young people working in community arts and cultural development, particularly in the areas of reconciliation and social justice; and
  • Lenine Bourke is this year’s recipient of the Community Partnerships Fellowship which supports artists with an outstanding record of achievement of at least 10 years practice to undertake a two-year program of further creative or professional development.

These three awards provide special recognition for inspirational arts practitioners who typically work and create in partnership with other practitioners and the community, Mr Grybowski said.

Dr Paula Abood is an artist, writer and educator who has worked with culturally diverse communities for the past 25 years and changed the lives of many through community engagement.

Sarah Emery is a multi-arts practitioner and a qualified teacher who has partnered with health, education, welfare, youth and arts organisations to create collaborative projects with people marginalised by society.

Lenine Bourke focuses the majority of her work on engaging children, young people and those from diverse communities.

They have each made distinguished and generous contributions to the communities they work in and they are very worthy award recipients. We were delighted that members of the Bower and Robson families were in attendance at the awards ceremony to celebrate their achievements.

Award recipients:

Dr Paula Abood is from West Ryde in Sydney. She has written for performance, radio, literary publications and film, including Parenting Stories, Huriyya and her Sisters, The Afghan Women’s Dobaiti Project, The Book of African Australian Stories and Of Middle Eastern Appearance. She teaches Community and Cultural Development at Ultimo TAFE, is a committee member of the Arab Film Festival and works on storytelling projects with western Sydney communities.

Sydney-based Sarah Emery is an Associate Director of Milk Crate Theatre, which helps artists who have experienced homelessness or social marginalisation to make theatre that creates change. She is also an independent artist with Heaps Decent and Shopfront, where she is Outreach Director.

Lenine Bourke is from Annerley in Brisbane. She is the Artistic Director at Contact Inc and has led many other projects and arts organisations, including as Executive Director at Young People and the Arts Australia. She was the recipient of the Kirk Robson Award in 2006, and the Fellowship will support her undertake a two-year professional and creative development program, which will involve exploring professional placements and collaborations.

Background to the Community Arts and Cultural Development Awards:

Ros Bower was a journalist, television producer and community arts pioneer. After joining the Australia Council as a policy officer, she identified areas of arts activities not eligible for subsidies and became a passionate advocate for what was to become known as community arts. She became the founding Director of the Australia Council’s first Community Arts Board. The Ros Bower Award was initiated in her honour by by her former colleagues. It was first awarded in 1981.

Kirk Robson was a community and cultural development artist who tragically died in a car crash in 2005. He received the Australia Council’s Young and Emerging Artists Initiative in 2002. He was the Artistic Director of The Torch Project, a community and cultural development company that uses theatre as a means to explore critical issues. Highlights included The Bridge (2003), Idol Quest (2004) and the films Faith (2005) and his first documentary The Turning of the Tide (2004). After his death, the Australia Council renamed one of the three annual Young Leaders Awards in his honour.

Past winners of the Ros Bower and Kirk Robson awards include Lockie McDonald, Steve Payne, Alissar Chidiac, Shakthi Shakthidharan, Jade Lillie and Alexandra Kelly.



Brianna Roberts


(02) 9215 9030


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