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Gathering of Indigenous creatives facilitated by UC and ArtsACT

Elly Mackay

11 August 2022: A yarning circle of cultural creatives was held last Sunday, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, art workers, and arts supporters participated in a round table event hosted by the University of Canberra and ArtsACT to explore themes, issues, and opportunities for the ACT creative sector.

Participants were invited to share their individual cultural arts practices and what it means to them to be on Ngunnawal Country with Elder and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Network member Aunty Tina Brown.

The gathering, involving the University of Canberra’s Centre for Creative and Cultural Research, was held at the Belconnen Arts Centre on Sunday afternoon, and facilitated by University of Canberra student Casey Keed.

Ms Keed is a proud Aboriginal woman from Wiradjuri and Dunghutti Country, raised on Ngunnawal Country. She said the roundtable was an important opportunity for like-minded creatives to come together.

“I hope this experience creates an appreciation for the yarns that strengthen, validate, and encourage the meaningful work cultural creatives do on Ngunnawal Country,” Ms Keed said.

“My hope is that each contributor in attendance at the gathering notices how Ngunnawal Country has connected their artform and personal journeys, to themselves and each other.”

The event was an opportunity for attendees to network, connect, and explore Colonisation, a visual art exhibition of Arrernte woman Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello OAM, as well as Lifesource, the exhibition of 2022 ACT NAIDOC Artist of the Year Leah Brideson.

Ms Keed said that while the event itself was of great significance, the ongoing support of Indigenous creatives in the ACT is an ideal outcome.

“Supporting creatives with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait background is vital, so that they can tell their own stories and share their own culture, without being the object or subject in a non-Indigenous space,” she said.

“This support fosters self-determination, which further fosters cultural art practices that are shared, passed down, and developed by First Nations creatives, for First Nations creatives.”

Ms Keed became involved in the program as the facilitator, after reaching out to ArtsACT in response to a Facebook callout.

“I followed my curiosity and passion for cultural arts, and after a few consultations, began working with the University of Canberra, Don Christopher from the ACT Government, and Belconnen Arts Centre to plan the project,” Ms Keed said.

The work and planning paid off, with 20 attendees engaged throughout and great ideas shared.

“It was evident in the gathering that whether born here or having journeyed to Ngunnawal Country for their own reasons, all felt blessed to practise here and connect to Ngunnawal Country,” Ms Keed said.

Participating artist and Writer-in-Residence for the event Barrina South, a Wailwan woman with strong connections to north-west NSW, will reflect on the event’s emergent themes in a soon-to-be-published piece.

To join or host future Gathering of Cultural Creative events, please contact Don Christopher, Assistant Director for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts Engagement at