Wednesday 22 March 2017

Cultural leaders from First Nations across the world meet to set a path for new work, new ways of working in Melbourne this May 

We have artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, curators, art workers and cultural leaders that continue to rise to the challenge of not only maintaining our continued traditions but to explore and evolve new forms of expressions. These expressions increasingly challenge the spaces and systems that we often find ourselves pigeon-holed into, whether that be by decolonising, indigenising or asserting our cultural sovereignty.” Peter White Co-Creative Producer of Marram-nganjinu Biik-gurrin.

Governments and cultural institutions in countries across the world are increasingly interested in properly recognising the value of First Nations knowledge and the place and contribution of First Nations culture to national life. But who sets the policies, who are the gatekeepers to audiences and how do First Nations artists develop their own ways of making and presenting their work in the 21st Century?

Programming decisions for major arts venues and festivals throughout Melbourne and the wider State of Victoria are being made by non-Indigenous administrators, with limited networks or knowledge of the Indigenous arts sector and the complexities of contemporary Aboriginal (and urban) cultures.” Jacob Boehme, Co-Creative Producer and Creative Director of YIRRAMBOI First Nations Arts Festival.

Marram-nganjinu Biik-gurrin – We are Country is a leadership symposium and Creation Lab, bringing international First Nations artists, musicians, producers and presenters together at a critical time. 

Held during YIRRAMBOI First Nations Arts Festival, Marram-nganjinu Biik-gurrin takes place on the lands of the Kulin nation in Melbourne from 8–12 May. Supported by the British Council in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts, Marram-nganjinu Biik-gurrin has two parts:  a three-day cultural summit and a five-day creation lab

Together, the two leadership events are an innovative, responsive and powerful answer to the challenges facing First Nations cultural leaders, acknowledging and building on conversations and movements that have occurred across the world for decades. Australian leaders and artists are joined by peers from Wales, Scotland, Taiwan, Canada, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands and more. 

The Cultural Summit will comprise a series of cultural provocations and think tank workshops leading to the launch of a new cultural manifesto challenging the broader cultural sector to strive for a new, more inclusive future. Running in tandem with the summit, the Creation Lab invites First Nations artists to challenge the influence of western methodologies and create a space for international collaboration and the seeding of new works. 

Marram-nganjinu Biik-gurrin arises out of ACCELERATE, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership program run by the British Council in Australia and the Australia Council for the Arts. Creative producers of Marram-nganjinu Biik-gurrin, Peter White and Jacob Boehme, are alumni of the program, alongside 33 others who have gone on to become leaders in the creative industries, their communities and more broadly. ACCELERATE alumni have formed networks and collaborations with artists and companies across Britain, and increasingly connect with First Nations artists and leaders who are also working within their own countries, as well as internationally.

Marram-nganjinu Biik-gurrin in the Woi Wurrung / Boon Wurrung languages of the Kulin nation means ‘We are Country’. It symbolises the strong bonds of First Nations cultural and creative practice to country, culture and community”, says Jacob Boehme.

In Melbourne the people of the Kulin nation have come together to welcome visitors and community members to their country during YIRRAMBOI First Nations Arts Festival this May to create, perform, reflect and inspire”.

Marram-nganjinu Biik-gurrin is presented by ACCELERATE alumni, supported by the British Council with the Australia Council for the Arts in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, City of Melbourne and Arts NSW.

Notes to Editor


Summit: 8–10 May, CBD Melbourne

Creation Lab: 8–12 May, Testing Grounds, 1–23 City Road, Southbank;  Evening sessions from 6pm


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.

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