More than 300 First Nations artists and cultural thought leaders have gathered in Adelaide, South Australia at the Purrumpa: First Nations Arts and Cultural Gathering.
Purrumpa is a Kaurna language word meaning “to flourish or blossom” and was gifted to the organisers by Kaurna Elder Uncle Lewis O’Brien.
Being held on Kaurna Yerta at the Adelaide Convention Centre until Friday 4 November, the week-long summit is part of the anniversary of the establishment of the Australia Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board.
It also marks 50 years since the last national gathering of this kind that was held in 1973, which set out policy and guidelines designed to encourage First Nations people around the country to participate in a broad range of arts activities.
Australia Council Executive Director for First Nations Arts and Culture Franchesca Cubillo said Purrumpa will celebrate the achievements of the past five decades and reflect on what the next 50 years could look like.
“Purrumpa will include deep listening, as well as important conversations about First Nations peoples’ self-determination, development, and priorities for the national advocacy of First Nations arts and culture,” Cubillo said.
Cubillo said Purrumpa has been generously supported by the South Australian government through Arts South Australia, and more than 120 South Australian First Nations people have participated in the event.
South Australian Minister for Arts Andrea Michaels said the main program features more than 25 South Australian-based artists and leaders, including keynote and plenary sessions featuring Uncle Moogy Sumner, Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin, Dr Ali Baker and Dan Riley.
“The exciting cultural program highlights South Australian Aboriginal peoples from the West Coast, through deserts and the Riverland to the Coorong, and will highlight Tarntanya, the Adelaide plain, as the site of significant gatherings for millennia,” Arts Minister Michaels said.
“Alongside this, our government also recognises the important opportunity Purrumpa will bring to talk with and listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from across the country about how together we can build on their extraordinary cultural and artistic contribution to who we are as a nation.”
The work of young and emerging First Nations artists from South Australia has also featured at the event through a partnership with Carclew, South Australia’s largest multi-art form and cultural organisation dedicated to artistic outcomes by and for people aged 26 and under.
Carclew arts and program manager Lilla Berry said she wants to see more opportunities created for young people in the next 50 years.
“Particularly for young people coming into the (arts) space and for them to be given pathways that they deserve to reach whatever goals it is that they want to,” she said.
Dr Ali Baker, Associate Professor at Flinders University, said she would like to see Aboriginal languages taught in schools across Australia and “for there to be a memorialisation of all the important and incredible storytellers and leaders and artists who have come before us.”
The program has focused on the role and representation of the First Nations arts and cultural sector through “The Uluru Statement from the Heart”, “Voice Treaty and Truth-Telling” and a “Voice to Parliament” dialogue.
It has also provided a national platform for state and national commitments to Aboriginal leadership in the arts.
Arts Minister Michaels said many of the critical discussions being held reflect the aims of the recently released Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Strategy for South Australia, which is being implemented by Arts South Australia.
“We are extremely honoured to host Purrumpa in Adelaide on Kaurna land, and proud to shine a light on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Strategy, and showcase our extraordinary practitioners and South Australia’s commitment to First Nations’ leadership in the arts,” she said.
The South Australian government contributed $300,000 towards the event, including support for a group of 10 artists and arts workers to attend the full Purrumpa program.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Kyam Maher said Aboriginal art is an important part of South Australia’s economy, its heritage and its culture.
“It helps us all connect with Australia’s rich Aboriginal history, while also reflecting contemporary culture and generating huge success in the art world locally, nationally and internationally,” Minister Maher said.
“I’m incredibly proud we are hosting Purrumpa on Kaurna land where we will showcase not only Aboriginal art and culture but also our state’s commitment to Voice, Treaty and Truth and the role the arts and cultural sector will play in this.”Jump to next article