Thursday 14 July 2016


The British Council today announced a First Nations forum produced and presented by alumni of the British Council and Australia Council for the Arts’ annual ACCELERATE leadership and development programme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Yirama Yangga-na (meaning “spirit singing”) is a three-day creative laboratory and cultural event that will be held at the University of Wollongong from Tuesday 19 – Thursday 21 July, connecting Australian indigenous creatives with First Nations delegates from Taiwan, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Canada and New Zealand. 

Yirama Yangga-na will spark new creative work and build a platform for leaders to share and develop their knowledge. A second forum is planned in 2017 to deepen the relationships forged between the ACCELERATE alumni and International First Nations leaders. 

ACCELERATE alumni and Creative Producers, Marilyn Miller and Kyle Morrison said: “The forum series seeks to create an International First Nations Cultural Leadership cohort, who will work together to further the development of a body of knowledge around cultural leadership and instigate professional development activities for First Nations arts leaders.

“Arts and creative work in the languages and traditions of First Nations people are about cultural survival and revival. Australia’s experience in fostering and presenting this work within contemporary creative industries is deep, and willingly shared with other First Nations countries to foster further international collaboration and growth.

“Yirama Yangga-na provides a forum where Australian Indigenous arts leaders can share and interrogate this knowledge with other cultural leaders facing similar issues of working across cultural barriers, dealing with cultural protocols and taboos at the same time as entering and succeeding in high profile international art markets,” added Marilyn Miller and Kyle Morrison.

Yirama Yangga-na has been made possible thanks to extended three-year funding announced by the Australia Council for the Arts in 2014. The Australia Council has been a founding partner of the ACCELERATE Indigenous leadership programme since its inception in 2009. The extended funding is also creating further opportunities for ACCELERATE alumni to build artistic collaboration with the UK and has allowed for increased mentoring and leadership training for ACCELERATE participants.

The keynote speaker at the inaugural Yirama Yangga-na will be Peter White, a Gamilaroi Murri man from north-west NSW Chair of Regional Arts NSW and a Director of Regional Arts Australia. Other speakers include choreographer Rita Pryce and architect Kevin O’Brien.

Participants in the forum are classified as Leaders, Listeners and Speakers 

  • Leaders are ACCELERATE Alumni First Nations creatives joined by First Nations international delegates from Taiwan, Fiji, Solomon Islands and New Zealand.  
  • Listeners are non-ACCELERATE Alumni and Non-First Nations participants who will primarily learn and observe. Attending as a ‘Listener’ offers the unique opportunity and privilege for non-First Nations people to be present within a First Nations space. 
  • Speakers are ACCELERATE Alumni that will be adding an extra layer to the event by being Leaders, Speakers, and participants as well as providing provocations for the Lab Sessions. Speakers include Rita Pryce, Kevin O’Brien and Keynote Speaker Peter White. 

Yirama Yangga-na is presented by the British Council in conjunction with the Australia Council for the Arts, with additional support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the University of Wollongong.

Notes to Editor

MEDIA CONTACTS: For more information, photographs and interview opportunities, contact Kym Elphinstone, Articulate,, 0421 106 139 or Jasmine Hersee,, 0406 649 393 

KEY DATES: Yirama Yangga-na is a three-day event, running from Tuesday 19 – Thursday 21 July 2016.  The forum is not open to the public and attendance is by invitation only.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We promote a friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and people worldwide, making a positive contribution to all the countries we work with and, in doing so, making a lasting difference to the UK's security, prosperity and influence.  We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people across arts, education and science every year.

ACCELERATE is a tailored leadership skills development programme  designed to provide Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders working within the creative industries with the skills and networks to generate, take up and excel in leadership positions. Presented by the British Council and the Australia Council for the Arts in partnership with Arts NSW, Arts NT, Arts Queensland, Creative Victoria, and the  Department of Culture and the Arts WA , ACCELERATE offers a blended learning experience, with participants taking part in intensive training workshops in Australia before travelling to the UK to develop skills in consultation with high profile individuals and organisations in their artistic fields. In its seventh successful year, ACCELERATE has been instrumental in discovering a pool of talent deep and wide in Indigenous culture as a new generation of leaders comes to the fore in Australia. Since its inception in 2009, the programme has developed an alumni of 29 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts leaders across the creative disciplines.

Marilyn Miller is of the Kukuyalanji/Wanyi peoples of Queensland. Marilyn was the sole female co-founder, Dancer/Choreographer of Australia's first Indigenous mainstream Company, Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre, Dancer/Choreographer with Bangarra Dance Theatre, Festival Director Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival. She is currently Artistic Associate with the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF). In the UK, Marilyn was introduced to a number of administrators from major UK contemporary dance companies, including Farooq Chaudhry of Akram Khan Dance.

Kyle Morrison is a Noongar man with family ties in the Mid-West, South-West and Goldfields regions. Kyle is Artistic Director and CEO of one of Australia’s leading Indigenous theatre companies, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, and is also one of Australia’s leading Aboriginal performers with extensive theatre and screen credits. In the UK, Kyle met National Theatre Wales’ shadowing Artistic Director, John McGrath as well as Emma Rice while Kneehigh Theatre Company were touring "Wildbride".

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