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Melbourne 2016 ISPA Congress - Webinar
Melbourne 2016 ISPA Congress


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First Nations Arts - a Melbourne Congress Primer

Go to Members-Only Video Gallery to watch the webinar recording 

Webinar Description

Inspired by Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being part of the oldest continuous living culture on the planet, in the lead up to the Melbourne ISPA Congress, the focus of this webinar is on First Nations Arts. 

This conversation with three accomplished indigenous arts leaders from Australia and Canada address protocols of the First Nations and Indigenous communities. Hear about the artistic process and successful collaborations between artists. The panelists address the myths that are often barriers for not only Indigenous artists but also audiences.


Moderator | Collette Brennan

Arts Consultant

Collette Brennan is an arts consultant focused on national and international audience and market development. Previously she was: Director of International Development, Acting Executive Director Arts Development, and Director of Market Development at the Australia Council for the Arts; Executive Director of Brisbane’s internationally acclaimed contemporary circus Circa; the founding Creative Director of The Edge, State Library of Queensland’s program for children and young people; General Manager of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s Out of the Box Festival for 3 to 8 year olds, and; Executive Officer of Youth Arts Queensland, the state’s peak body for youth arts and cultural development. Collette has also worked in schools as a drama and history teacher and as a youth arts worker in a range of school and community contexts with children and young people.

Panelist | Rachael Maza 

Actor, Director, Dramaturg and now Artistic Director at ILBIJERRI Theatre Company

Rachael Maza (Yidinji woman from North Queensland and Meriam from Torres Strait Island of Mer) She grew up in the world of Theatre, her father Bob Maza, founded the first modern Aboriginal Theatre in 1970.  Inspired by the Black Power movement in America - Modern ‘Black Theatre’ in Australia started as a political tool: a means by which to bring about change and while there is still racism and inequality toward Aboriginal people in Australia - I believe this is as true today as it was then. 

Current works in repertoire at ILBIJERRI include: Award winning “Jack Charles V the Crown”, “Coranderrk”, and “Beautiful One Day”, upcoming works premiering include: “Which Way, Home,” “Blood on the Dance Floor” and “Lush Life.

Rachael sits on several boards including: Black Arm Band, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, Australia Opera Indigenous Advisory Board, Circus Oz Indigenous Advisory Board, APACC (Australian Performing Arts Collections Committee), Greenroom Awards, Balnaves Indigenous Playwrights Award, Poppyseed Festival selection panel.

Panelist | Lydia Miller

Executive Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts, Australia Council for the Arts

Lydia Miller is a Kuku Yalanji woman with more than 20 years of experience as a performer, artistic director, producer, administrator and advocate, as well as professional experience in the health, justice and community sectors.

Panelist | Santee Smith

Artistic Director and Choreographer, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre

Santee Smith - Tekaronhiáhkhwa is a mother, performer, producer, choreographer and designer from the Kahnyen’kehàka Nation, Turtle Clan. Santee calls Six Nations of the Grand River her home and descents from a long line of Mohawk artists. 

Santee attended Canada’s National Ballet School and holds Kinesiology and Psychology degrees from McMaster University and a M.A. in Dance from York University. In 1996, she created her first choreography for the National Film Board’s The Gift propelling her from academics to performance. Santee self-produced her first work Kaha:wi at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre in 2004. In 2005, she founded Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (KDT), a vehicle for her artistic work. KDT has grown into a major artistic force in the Canadian dance landscape and internationally. Her repertoire includes 12 productions, 7 short works, many works for special events and film/video such the recent National Art Centre Orchestra’s I Lost My Talk. Her artistic work speaks about identity, embodied Indigenous practice generated from body, story, and place.

Santee is a recipient of awards including Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Choreography and Six Nations Polytechnic’s Eihwaedei Yerihwayente:ri (Community Scholar). Internationally recognized as a leader in Indigenous performance, Santee is a sought after teacher and speaker recently at Walrus Talks, APAM Brisbane, AU, and York University. Her life and work has been the topic of documentaries including: Moccasins and Concrete: An Urban Native Story (CBC) and Kaha:wi – Cycle of Life directed Shane Belcourt (APTN, CBC Documentary). When not performing, Santee designs pottery at family run Talking Earth Pottery studio.


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