Merindah Donnelly is challenging artists and audiences to cement Queensland’s position on the world’s cultural map.
A descendant of the Wiradjuri nation, Merindah advocates for the development of the small to medium Indigenous dance sector in her role as Executive Producer of BlakDance.
“Any type of dance in Australia sits within the context of 100,000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance continuum and Queensland is home to the highest critical mass of First Nations choreographers nationally,” she said.
“I am throwing down the gauntlet – let’s change the future to one we can see ourselves in, Queensland needs to be the home of making and presenting First Nations contemporary dance.”
The classically-trained dancer has witnessed first-hand the support and appetite Queensland – and Brisbane – has for cultural evolution.
Merindah first moved to the capital in 2014 to work on APAM (Australian Performing Arts Market) at Brisbane Powerhouse, an event she credits with repositioning First Nations arts and culture both domestically and internationally.
“By hosting APAM, Brisbane influenced policy change and investment that has led to global support of First Nations arts and the rest of the country has followed suit,” she said.
Merindah is confident this cultural momentum will grow and continue to spotlight the Indigenous creative sector through Brisbane Festival’s new First Nations Curatorium, of which she is a founding member.
“The First Nations arts sector in Brisbane has traditionally been underfunded and under-resourced, but I hope that the deeper engagement led by Brisbane Festival enables the recognition of the importance of First Nations arts in understanding and expressing our local identity.
“As a city, we need to cultivate and nurture cultural arts practices happening in the community, stay authentic to that expression and amplify it wherever possible. Our community needs a say in what is being curated across our city, as the main stakeholders for engagement and audience attendance, we must decentralise hierarchies and western models and instead, listen to what people want.”