Celebrating the achievements of First Nations artists at the 2021 First Nations Arts Awards

    27 May 2021

    The recipients of the 2021 First Nations Arts Awards have been announced during a special event streamed live online across Australia, in partnership with NITV.

    The First Nations Arts Awards are delivered by the Australia Council for the Arts each year on May 27, marking the anniversary of the 1967 referendum and the start of National Reconciliation Week.

    The awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding work and achievements of First Nations artists. 

    Two respected elders received prestigious Red Ochre Awards for Lifetime Achievement including Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung woman Dr Lou Bennett AM and renowned Kimberly artist Yorna (Donny) Woolagoodja.

    Dr Bennett AM received a Red Ochre for her contribution as a composer, singer and a researcher of First Nations languages. She has mentored high profile artists including Ursula Yovich, Leah Flanagan, Dan Sultan and Eric Avery. She was also a vocal coach on the film The Sapphires.

    Yorna (Donny) Woolagoodja is a renowned artist from the Western Kimberly region of Western Australia. Among his achievements, his work featured in the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

    The Dreaming Award for a young an emerging artist was awarded to 24-year-old old rapper and Gumbaynggirr man Tasman Keith. The musician, from Bowraville has already achieved significant success, touring nationally and supporting stars including Jessica Mauboy and Midnight Oil.

    The awards also acknowledged the recipient of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Fellowship, musician and songwriter Kutcha Edwards.

    Executive Director Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Franchesca Cubillo said: 

    “These awards are an important opportunity for all Australians to recognise the extraordinary First Nations arts and culture that shapes our national identity and enriches our nation’s unique cultural agenda. The awards are also an opportunity for all Australians to recognise the importance of First Nations peoples’ self-determination, cultural authority and leadership.”


    Red Ochre Awards for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement:

    Dreaming Award

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Fellowship

    The Awards also acknowledged the many First Nations artists who have received other Australia Council awards in the last year including: 

    Jazz Money (First Nations Emerging Career Development Award), Justin Grant (First Nations Emerging Career Development Award), William Barton (Australia Council Don Banks Music Award) and Marianne Wobcke (Australia Council Ros Bower Award for Community Arts and Cultural Development.

    The 2021 First Nations Arts Awards will available this weekend on SBS On Demand.

    The Red Ochre Award for a senior female artist is supported in part by the Morgans Foundation.

    The Dreaming Award is generously supported by Christine Simpson-Stokes AM.

    Media contact

    Brianna Roberts, Media Manager

    Australia Council for the Arts

    Phone: (02) 9215 9030

    Mobile: 0498 123 541

    Email: b.roberts@australiacouncil.gov.au

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