A good news story

Part 3 of this series invites the audience to understand what art centres need to keep playing their vital roles in their communities. Elders, artists and staff of three Aboriginal community controlled art centres share the importance of recognising and resourcing the art centres to support their communities.

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Video Transcript

Art Centres Keep Our Elders Strong & Connected: Continue the Good News Story

Voiceover: There are about 90 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled art centres across Australia. Art centres are the hub of community life, they support artists, and the Elders are the foundation of the art centre. Art centres bring generations together, for everyone to learn from each other by sharing stories of culture, Country and kin, and keeping them alive for the future. Art centres are all different but they all do these things and this is a celebration of three of them.

Art Centres Keep Our Elders Strong & Connected: Continue the Good News Story [Title]

Tjanpi Desert Weavers singing: [in Ngaanyatjarra] Raffia shimmers, raffia shimmers, grass shimmers, raffia shimmers, raffia shimmers, grass shimmers.

Margaret Smith, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: See this basket is made out of grass; that grass Tjanpi. We call it Tjanpi. It's not a new thing, but the colours are new and the raffias and the needle but long time they did have that.

Julie Anderson, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: [in Pitjantjatjara] Yuwa wipia.

Margaret Smith, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: Yuwa wipia or the hair.

Nisa Richy, Ikuntji Artists: One really important part of the art centre is facilitating bush trips. Getting artists back on Country and that’s something the art centre puts a lot of work into, working with people where they want to go. I’ve been lucky enough to go with some artists on some small bush trips and I think it’s like really being in their comfort zone. I think it’s their Country, it’s where they have their connection, and I think you can't have that anywhere else.

Margaret Smith, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: We haven't got much funding for Tjanpi corner, you know. Not just Tjanpi corner but everywhere. Funding is the main issue.

Roslyn Malay, University of Western Australia: It's so important to keep our older people strong, healthy, active, being part of something that they play a very important role in. You could see the difference it makes when they come to Mangkaja, you know, like it's something that, it's part of them. You know, they come to share their stories, tell their history, share their culture, language to the younger generations, which, you know, I think it's brilliant. Where else could you get something like this in a cultural way.

Chrischona Schmidt, Ikuntji Artists: I hope that government will see that an art centre is not just an economic space creating jobs in communities, but it's very much considered a space of community space that supports all generations and that it's finally getting an acknowledgment for all the ‘extra’ work that we're doing. That is not considered extra by the community, but it's considered outside of our funding agreements.

Michelle Young, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: We just can't do this all on our own, so it's really important that we have a number of really flourishing partnerships, and I think there's great potential to work together with organisations out there for the outcomes of artists in community, particularly with some of the aged care facilities, for example, where we're supporting women that have moved into those places and are often removed from community. I think that is a very encouraging sign of the way that the investment can be quite small, but can be very meaningful as well in supporting women out on Country.

Belinda Cook, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency: It was great to hear the feedback from those other agencies and see that they also recognise what we contribute and what the art centre contributes and the critical role it plays and how important our relationships are. The conversations around what we do for our artists, all the roles we play in this space is something we've talked about for a long time and that that wasn't recognised and isn't part of our funding or part of the support that we receive from government. But it's definitely something that everybody recognises within our community. So we were trying to work out ways that we could start to tell that story.

Michelle Young, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: Art centres are really strong places for older people to be respected and valued, and they contribute fully to the economy and families, and they also contribute a wealth of information that informs the artwork. Within the art centre it's a very intergenerational space, and so when these women are creating work, they're actually sharing that with their wider community. So they're really important repositories for cultural information. And I think that's the real strength of art centres.

Lynley Nargoodah, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency: They should really put our old people on a pedestal. Every organisation everywhere should put them on a pedestal and rise them up because they've done a lot for not just their own people, but everyone else as well.

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