• NORPA's creative team during a 'Three Brothers' workshop. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
EXCLUSIVE: The contemporary project, Bundjalung Nghari–Three Brothers from Northern Rivers Performing Arts theatre group, the big winner in today's funding announcement.
Tara Callinan

1 Feb 2016 - 1:56 PM  UPDATED 1 Feb 2016 - 5:15 PM


The NSW government has pledged its support for Aboriginal art projects and theatre works across the state.

Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said the funding will help regional organisations preserve local histories.

“This investment will bring together people from across our communities including artists, elders, youth and scientists to create works that engage and reflect our local communities,” he said.  

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Leslie Williams said the funding will help Aboriginal artists from NSW build on their skills and capabilities. 

“It is important that Aboriginal artists are able to raise awareness of their history and culture in innovative ways to connect local communities to local Aboriginal stories,” Mrs Williams said.

The arts projects to receive funding are;

  1. Bundjalung Nghari - Three Brothers: Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA),
  2. Staging Stories 2:  Orana Arts, and
  3. Bermagui Project Stage 2: Four Winds Concerts.

The most generous grant of $150,000 dollars went to Bundjalung Nghari–Three Brothers; a contemporary theatre project showcasing Aboriginal culture from the states Northern Rivers region.

“We are delighted with Arts NSW backing our project,” said NORPA’s Artistic Director, Julian Louis.

Three Brothers is a creation story of this area; the Bundjalung Nation ... it’s a very large area of land that is very culturally strong,” he said.

Mr Louis says funding is necessary for First Nations playwrights trying to educate the broader community.

“So that non-Indigenous people can celebrate and understand what Aboriginal art is, what the moral story within it is, and how it reflect the landscape.”

Regional Arts Development Officer for Orana Arts Alicia Legget is just as thrilled with today's funding announcement.

“We are supported and the work we are doing is getting recognised, but it is a struggle because we are a small organisation with a big ask,” said Mrs Legget.

She is working with Aboriginal playwrights, actors and elders from more than 15 communities to produce Staging Stories 2, a project which received $144,200 dollars in funding.

Mrs Leggett’s Aboriginal Arts Development Officer, Melissa Ryan says the project wouldn’t be possible without input from elders.

“They are so great. You can just sit down and have a cup of tea with them and it’s like you are not even learning ... you are just listening and taking in the stories.”

“Things get so centralised to a ‘metropolitan way of thinking’ that we forget the stories happening out here in the regions,” she said.

Four Winds’ Executive Director David Francis is just as committed to exposing stories from the bush.

He believes more funding will help Aboriginal culture transcend beyond Australian borders. 

“Just because we’re regionally based doesn’t mean that we can’t have an international presence” he said.

His project - Bermagui Project Stage 2 – received $92,500 dollars in funding for its collaborative approach to Indigenous storytelling.

“We work with local Indigenous people form the Yuin Nation, school students and community choirs to create work inspired by nature and place,” said Mr Francis.