would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on
which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and I pay my respects to
leaders past, present and emerging and all indigenous people present.
particularly acknowledge the presence of Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield,
Minister for Communications and the Arts.
Thank you, Minister, for being here tonight in the context of an extremely
busy period. We greatly appreciate your
prioritising this occasion and your support and enthusiasm for it.
also acknowledge Wesley Enoch as MC and as Chair of the Australia Council’s ATSIA
Panel whose contribution to the sector is incalculable and my co-host, Lee-Ann
Buckskin, as a current fellow Australia Council Board member, a wonderful
colleague whose energy and wisdom have been central to our most important
discussions over the last four years.
addition to it being a considerable responsibility, it is also a great privilege
to chair the Australia Council. There are some occasions during each year when
that privilege is highly evident.
Tonight is one of those.
nearly often enough, I get the opportunity to speak on behalf of the whole
Council, the board, the CEO, Tony Grybowski, executive and staff to emphasise
the importance of acknowledging, congratulating and thanking Australian artists
from all disciplines who devote their lives to creative expression.
and in this great Sydney Opera House in a room that acknowledges its architect,
especially, I want to acknowledge the central purpose of these National Indigenous Art Awards which is to celebrate the achievements and artistic
creativity of exceptional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
Council Board on which Lee-Ann and I serve comprises twelve Australians who
come together from lives spent living and working in all Australian States and
Territories; in metropolitan centres and in regional communities; some of us
were born overseas and some of us were born here; each of us is spending a
decent part of a lifetime in some way deeply connected to the arts either as
practitioners or facilitators; we are multi-faith and with surnames that
reflect Indigenous, Polish, Vietnamese, Egyptian, English, French, German and
many other backgrounds; we are fifty percent men and fifty percent women.
are all charged with the responsibility of working together with the staff and
executive of the Australia Council, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government
and nation, to support and nurture the arts of this country.
is on behalf of that group and in fulfilment of that responsibility that I am
privileged to say thank you and congratulations to this evening’s award
you for the generosity shown by all of you in sharing your cultural knowledge
and experience, for the maintenance of cultural practice and custodial care for
this land, your innovation in artistic expression and your demonstrated spirit
congratulations on being acknowledged through a process of assessment by your
peers, and for now joining an extraordinary group of artists who have
previously been similarly recognised.
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