CDU advances discussion on Indigenous Creative Industries 

Bungul dancers at Garma 2008. ©YYF/Garma Festival. Photographer Wayne Quilliam.

The upcoming Garma Festival Key Forum will explore a subject that has quickly become one of the most discussed public issues in Australia.

The three-day Forum will focus on the theme Indigenous Creative Industries: opportunities, culture and knowledge, and is a central feature of the Garma Festival of Traditional Culture, which will begin on August 7 near Nhulunbuy in north-east Arnhem Land.

Co-ordinated by Charles Darwin University, the Forum will feature important discussions on issues such as cultural rights and integrity, and commercial rights and opportunities in regard to Indigenous creative industries, including the visual and performing arts, music, film, design, and electronic and new media.

The place of traditional art and economic development opportunities, including cultural tourism, which are afforded Indigenous Australians through training, development and practice in creative industries also will be discussed at the Key Forum. It will be attended by arts community practitioners, representatives and leaders, as well as corporate and governmental leaders from around Australia.

Founder and Deputy Chairman of the Yothu Yindi Foundation, Mandawuy Yunupingu said the Key Forum would help to explore new opportunities for Indigenous people.

“Aborigines are prominent in various creative industries in Australia, particularly visual art, and dance and music, but there is huge potential for increased involvement and economic opportunities, while maintaining cultural rights and integrity,” Mr Yunupingu said.

Garma will again feature a major Youth Forum (August 8-10) and the popular cultural tourism program. Men’s and women’s programs along traditional Yolngu lines, training workshops, and many cultural performances, presentations and collaborations will also be held as a part of the Forum.

“Traditional knowledge systems and cultural traditions and practices, especially in dance, song, art and ceremony, and their practice, preservation and presentation are vital for Indigenous Australians’ cultural identity, social cohesion, and community and personal well-being and development,” Mr Yunupingu said.

“That vital element, and all the other elements and angles of Indigenous involvement in creative industries, make this a very important Key Forum for us, and the Key Forum theme is yet another important cultural and art element of Garma.”

The annual Garma Festival of Traditional Culture will be held on August 7-11 this year, with the Key Forum occurring on August 8-10.