Blak Curatorium leading the way

31 Jul

Media Release
Blak Curatorium leading the way

After ten years of transformative leadership through the Brisbane Festival Indigenous Advisory Group (IAG), Brisbane Festival has assembled the next generation of First Nation creatives and leaders to shape and direct the Festival’s First Nations programming, in an industry-leading initiative.

Intending to appoint a single First Nations Program Curator, Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina and the IAG said the quality of candidates was so outstanding, the Festival instead established a four-person “Blak Curatorium”.

The Blak Curatorium will be made up of artist and producer Alethea Beetson, Blaklash Creative Co-Directors Troy Casey and Amanda Hayman and dance producer Merindah Donnelly.

Louise Bezzina and the IAG said the Blak Curatorium would work collaboratively and culturally to deliver elements of this year’s program with its primary focus to develop and commission a powerful program of First Nations works in 2021 and beyond.

“Before COVID-19 challenged us to reimagine Brisbane Festival’s entire 2020 program, I was genuinely excited by the strength, volume and quality of First Nations work the Festival intended to present this year,” Ms Bezzina said.

“But we fervently believe that Indigenous programming decisions need to be led by Indigenous people. With the appointment of a Blak Curatorium, Brisbane Festival is leading by example.”

Brisbane Festival Indigenous Advisory Board Chair, Gangulu/Ngati Kahungunu woman Michelle Tuahine said the Blak Curatorium broke new ground and signalled a long-overdue movement in the arts towards cultural stewardship.

“This is the way forward. This approach and putting this specific team together – these individual creative talents and minds – is out of the ordinary and a unique situation alongside other major festivals in Australia,” Ms Tuahine said.

“It elevates how Brisbane Festival not only recognises but also understands the responsibility it has to ensure cultural integrity.

Indigenous programming must be more than symbolism, it must demonstrate a deeply personal connection to our community and signal genuine intent from the Festival to be brave, bold and to break new ground.

Alethea Beetson is a Kabi Kabi and Wiradjuri woman, committed to sharing stories, advocating, creating change and mentoring the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and artistic leaders.

“I have been able to work with some incredible First Nations curators, artists and mentors (and) their contribution to my ability to work here has shaped my career significantly,” Ms Beetson said.

“I look forward to the role I will play in elevating First Nations music within Brisbane Festival, working alongside my peers, and under the guidance of the IAG.”

Amanda Hayman (Wakka Wakka/Kalkadoon) and Troy Casey (Kamilaroi) from Blaklash Creative have an impressive portfolio of community-celebrated visual art exhibitions, cultural events and creative projects that showcase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander narratives.

“I am excited by the new leadership of Brisbane Festival and I think we’ll see the impact of genuine community engagement and more opportunities for local Indigenous artists in the coming years,” Ms Hayman said.

“The best people to tell First Nations stories are First Nations people. The Curatorium will drive huge change locally and I am excited about the collective impact we can create,” Mr Casey added.

Merindah Donnelly is a descendant of the Wiradjuri nation and Executive Director of BlakDance .

“First Nations dance should play an important role in the contemporary expression of our struggles, victories, collective storytelling and our future. Brisbane is home to the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts and we recognise the importance of the Festival in creating a platform that embeds pathways for graduates and attracts Murri choreographers back to their home state”. Ms Donnelly said.

Working with the Curatorium is the Festival’s newly appointed First Nations Creative Producer J-Maine Beezley, a proud Wakka Wakka/Kabi Kabi man.

“I am beyond excited and honoured to work alongside incredible First Nation creatives, to help shape and present First Nation excellence and be guided by the extraordinary team of the IAG. Look out! Watch this space,” Mr Beezley said.

The reimagined Brisbane Festival 2020 will be held from 4 to 26 September.

Brisbane Festival expresses deep respect to and acknowledges the First People of this Country.