First Nations Arts and Culture

Mary Katatjuku Pan from Amata (SA) with Punu Kutjara. 2016. Image by Rhett Hammerton. Copyright Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women’s Council

First Nations Arts and Culture are a rich contribution to the world’s culture, and to Australia’s diverse contemporary culture and national identity.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts include classical, traditional and contemporary practice, including all new forms of cultural expression. This is applied across all art forms and in urban, regional and remote areas.

The Australia Council for the Arts regards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures as living forces with their own strengths and influences, not as remnants of the past. We aim to make these cultural expressions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a source of pride for all Australians.

The value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts activity to individuals, families and communities is significant culturally, socially and economically, and its potential is significant in all communities. Research by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and the Telstra Foundation about the role of Indigenous festivals highlighted not only the economic benefits but improved well-being, as people reported that they had an increase in cultural pride and self-esteem stemming from a sense of inclusion and cultural identity.

Protocols for using First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the Arts.

First published in 2002 and revised in 2007, this protocol guide endorses the rights of Indigenous people to their cultural heritage and supports Indigenous creative practice. This protocol guide encourages self-determination and helps build a strong and diverse Indigenous arts sector. These are key goals and priority areas of the Australia Council for the Arts.

Creative practitioners who work with Indigenous artists or engage with Indigenous cultural heritage in projects, and are funded by Australia Council for the Arts grant assessment panels are required to comply with this protocol guide as a condition of funding.

Over the years, the principles and protocols contained in this protocol guide have also been applied nationally and internationally – educating readers and users on Indigenous Australian cultural heritage, and encouraging meaningful collaborations with Indigenous artists and creators.

Funding

Funding is dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, groups and organisations. This funding is assessed wholly by Indigenous peers.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, groups and organisations are welcome to make applications for activities with vibrancy in artistic and cultural expressions.

Need help with your application? Contact a Grants Officer now


Impacts of COVID-19 on First Nations arts and culture

This paper outlines the immediate and longer term needs, concerns and potentially catastrophic impacts for First Nations arts and culture in light of COVID-19. This includes potential for the most significant loss of arts, culture and language since the arrival of the First Fleet. Drawing on research and sector intelligence, the paper highlights opportunities for First Nations arts specific support and cross-portfolio advocacy and engagement.

Closing the Gap

The Australia Council’s submission to the Closing the Gap Refresh advocates for increased investment in First Nations arts and cultural expression, cultural maintenance, and First Nations-led culturally based solutions across portfolios. It draws on the growing body of evidence showing participation in arts and culture supports outcomes across the Closing the Gap framework.

Our submission was developed in collaboration with our First Nations stakeholders. First Nations peoples’ indivisible rights to culture and self-determination are central in our submission. For decades, First Nations peoples have advocated for the critical role of culture – as a necessary part of the solution to Indigenous disadvantage, and for the healing and strengthening of individuals and communities. However, culture has been the missing element from the Closing the Gap framework to date. Funding for First Nations culture made up just 1% of total direct government expenditure for Indigenous Australians in 2015–16, and cultural outcomes have not featured in the measurement framework.

Now is the moment to invest in the inherent value and foundational role of strong culture in the Closing the Gap agenda.

Click here to read more.


Mary Katatjuku Pan from Amata (SA) with Punu Kutjara. 2016. Image by Rhett Hammerton. Copyright Tjanpi Desert Weavers

Opportunities for First Nations Artists


Open

Playing Australia: Regional Performing Arts Touring Fund

Closing Date:

Tue October 12, 2021 3:00 pm (AEDT)

The Regional Performing Arts Touring program (Playing Australia) supports performing arts to reach regional and remote communities across Australia. Grants are available to support the net touring and other designated costs associated with tours

View opportunity
Open

The Red Ochre Award (Lifetime achievement)

Closing Date:

Tue October 12, 2021 3:00 pm (AEDT)

The prestigious Red Ochre Award was established by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board in 1993 to pay tribute to a senior Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person for their outstanding lifetime achievement in the arts and their contribution to the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, both nationally and internationally.

View opportunity
Open

The Dreaming Award

Closing Date:

Tue October 12, 2021 3:00 pm (AEDT)

The Dreaming Award recognises an inspirational young artist aged 18-30 years and supports them to create a major body of work through mentoring and partnerships, either nationally or internationally.

View opportunity
Open

First Nations Emerging Career Development Award

Closing Date:

Tue October 12, 2021 3:00 pm (AEDT)

The First Nations Emerging Career Development Award 2020 is the result of Australia Council’s Workplace Giving scheme 2019-2020. Through the generous contributions from our staff and board, $20,000 has been raised to help further the career of two (2) emerging First Nations artists or arts workers

View opportunity
Open

Playing Australia Multi-Year Investment

Closing Date:

Tue October 12, 2021 3:00 pm (AEDT)

The Regional Performing Arts Touring program (Playing Australia) supports performing arts to reach regional and remote communities across Australia. Grants are available to support the net touring and other designated costs associated with tours

View opportunity
Open

International Curators Program: Asia Pacific Triennial x TarraWarra Biennial

Closing Date:

Tue October 12, 2021 3:00 pm (AEDT)

Curators, creative and cultural producers who identify as First Nations and/or of the Asia Pacific diaspora based in Australia are invited to apply for funding support to participate in a series of online and in-person exchanges.

View opportunity
Open

Australian Pavilion Invigilation Program – Venice Biennale 2022

Closing Date:

Tue October 19, 2021 12:00 am (AEDT)

For the Venice Biennale 2022, the Australia Council is inviting applications for invigilators of the exhibition in the Australian Pavilion. Marco Fusinato is the artist commissioned for Australia’s national representation at the Venice Biennale 2022. The exhibition is curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor.

View opportunity
Open

Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) Residency

Closing Date:

Tue October 26, 2021 3:00 pm (AEDT)

Founded in 1998, Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) is the largest international residency centre in the Nordic and Baltic region. Every year up to 90 arts professionals from around the world are offered a working period of one to three months. The studios are located on Suomenlinna Island, a World Heritage site, and in the Cable Factory cultural complex in central Helsinki.

View opportunity

Open

Playing Australia: Regional Performing Arts Touring Fund

The Regional Performing Arts Touring program (Playing Australia) supports performing arts to reach regional and remote communities across Australia. Grants are available to support the net touring and other designated costs associated with tours
Open

The Red Ochre Award (Lifetime achievement)

The prestigious Red Ochre Award was established by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board in 1993 to pay tribute to a senior Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person for their outstanding lifetime achievement in the arts and their contribution to the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, both nationally and internationally.
Open

The Dreaming Award

The Dreaming Award recognises an inspirational young artist aged 18-30 years and supports them to create a major body of work through mentoring and partnerships, either nationally or internationally.
Open

First Nations Emerging Career Development Award

The First Nations Emerging Career Development Award 2020 is the result of Australia Council’s Workplace Giving scheme 2019-2020. Through the generous contributions from our staff and board, $20,000 has been raised to help further the career of two (2) emerging First Nations artists or arts workers
Open

Playing Australia Multi-Year Investment

The Regional Performing Arts Touring program (Playing Australia) supports performing arts to reach regional and remote communities across Australia. Grants are available to support the net touring and other designated costs associated with tours
Open

International Curators Program: Asia Pacific Triennial x TarraWarra Biennial

Curators, creative and cultural producers who identify as First Nations and/or of the Asia Pacific diaspora based in Australia are invited to apply for funding support to participate in a series of online and in-person exchanges.
Open

Australian Pavilion Invigilation Program – Venice Biennale 2022

For the Venice Biennale 2022, the Australia Council is inviting applications for invigilators of the exhibition in the Australian Pavilion. Marco Fusinato is the artist commissioned for Australia’s national representation at the Venice Biennale 2022. The exhibition is curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor.
Open

Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) Residency

Founded in 1998, Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) is the largest international residency centre in the Nordic and Baltic region. Every year up to 90 arts professionals from around the world are offered a working period of one to three months. The studios are located on Suomenlinna Island, a World Heritage site, and in the Cable Factory cultural complex in central Helsinki.