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Celebrating strength, pride and achievement of First Nations artists at National Indigenous Arts Awards

The Australia Council for the Arts will celebrate the contribution of First Nations artists at the 12th National Indigenous Arts Awards, to be presented tonight at the Sydney Opera House.

Respected elders actor Uncle Jack Charles and Pakana shell artist Aunty Lola Greeno will be honoured with the prestigious Red Ochre Awards for Lifetime Achievement. They will be joined by visual artist Jenna Lee, who receives The Dreaming Award for a young and emerging artist and theatre maker Jacob Boehme who is the recipient of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Fellowship.

The National Indigenous Arts Awards (NIAA) recognise the centrality of First Nations artists to Australian culture. They celebrate the significant contribution of First Nations artists to the vibrancy of Australian arts. The event is held on 27 May each year to coincide with the anniversary of the 1967 referendum.

Australia Council Deputy Chair Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin said, “On this auspicious date, it is significant that we are supporting and celebrating our First Nations artists at important stages in their careers. There is a profound sense of cultural strength as we acknowledge these artists from across the generations, from emerging to mid-career, to some our most celebrated and acclaimed elders.”

First Nations artists have also received extensive acknowledgement in the Australia Council Awards and the Australia Council Fellowships this year. At the NIAA event, these artists will also be acknowledged. Fellowship recipients Vernon Ah Kee (visual art) and Ali Cobby Eckerman (literature) will be joined onstage by three more outstanding First Nations artists, who received Australia Council Awards earlier this year – Rachael Maza, Rhoda Roberts and Vicki Van Hout.

Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette said this was a significant moment to reflect on the achievements of First Nations artists.

“It will be a proud moment when we see these nine extraordinary artists on stage being honoured for their achievements across multiple artforms. It’s a powerful demonstration of the centrality of First Nations arts in Australia’s cultural fabric,” he said.

2019 National Indigenous Arts Awards

Red Ochre Award (for outstanding lifetime achievement)

The Dreaming Award (for an emerging artist aged 18-26 years)

Australia Council Fellowship (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts)

Australia Council Award (previously announced) 

Fellowship Recipients (previously announced)

Note for editors: images can be downloaded from Dropbox here

Media enquiries:

Elly Baxter, Acting Media Manager, Australia Council for the Arts

Phone: (02) 9215 9030

Mobile: 0498 123 541


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Learn more about the First Nations Arts Awards 2020.



Brianna Roberts


(02) 9215 9030

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