Indigenous cultural festivals unite communities
05 April 2011
Festivals are important to Indigenous communities for their contribution to community well-being, resilience and capacity.
East Kimberley Group performing the Wangga dance at the KALACC festival. Photo by Alisdair McNaughton.
For anyone who has ever attended an Indigenous cultural festival, the happy faces of participants provide evidence enough of the effect on community health and well-being. But the health of the Indigenous festival circuit needs to be assessed more fully if the industry is to continue attracting funding and sponsorship.
In 2007, the Telstra Foundation and the Australian Research Council commissioned research into the health, viability and sustainability of festivals. RMIT University’s Globalism Research Centre took on the project, focusing on festivals over five sites: the Garma Festival in North East Arnhem Land, the Dreaming Festival in Woodford, Queensland, and three very different locations of the Croc Festival in Cape York, Queensland, Derby in Western Australia and Shepparton in Victoria.
In October 2010, Dr Mark Bin Bakar, Chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts (ATSIA) Board launched the Telstra Foundation report: Indigenous Cultural Festivals: Evaluating impact on community health and well-being. The research proves that cultural festivals promote an experience of social inclusion, positive institutional engagement and broadened opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
Read more in Arts Yarn Up.