First Peoples art and culture is the premise for the whole of Australian arts and culture but is consciously sidelined from conventional presentation opportunities with excuses.

This can be found in the lack of Indigenous ‘product’ from major presentation venues, touring circuits, festivals.

The excuses having been around for at least 10 years that I can remember.

Many initiatives have been, and are continuously, put in place to combat this deliberate sidelining. Simultaneously, the creation of content maintains impetus and focus for artists and art practitioners.

Regardless of the new positions, new partnerships, new touring incentives, new presentation opportunities, and new funding models to assist with organisational growth and sustainability; the state of First Peoples art and culture is constantly sidelined, with excuses, by the non-Indigenous sector.

This stranglehold on the major venues, touring circuits, financial benefits, marketing outlets, and audiences within Australia has caused the necessity for Visionary Leadership from First Peoples artists and arts practitioners.

The envisioning of scenarios with long-term reach, benefit, impact, and culturally regenerative content is what’s needed for a distinctive cultural future.

Re-imagining platforms for the development of our cultural future is paramount to the existence of it.

This re-imagining, done through Integrator or Inspirer Leadership, needs to consider First Peoples globally. That is, the deliberate move to global networking to imbue renewed validity, credibility, sustainability, longevity of existing and future works, practices and thinking.

Building the global network of a shared vision of support for discussion, development, partnering, presentation, amongst First Peoples is an answer to the domestic sidelining that has, and still occurs.

Opportunities such as Yirama Yangga-na (2016) and Marram-nganjinu Biik-gurrin are our keystones to explore how and what a global network could look like, and do, as well as how the facilitation of such envisioning can come to fruition.

This is the ‘bigger picture’ and indicative of Visionary Leadership.

What also needs to be addressed is identifying where or who the leaders are, and recognising that these will vary depending on where in the growth of the spectrum of this global network we are as a collective, and where each individual artist or arts practitioner is in their own practice.

Not all artists and arts practitioners will be leaders, but they will all be contributors to a global network. Regardless, at any stage the artist or arts practitioner is still responsible for their own generation of energy and momentum, devising of content, and relationship managing.

The recognition and realisation of what is needed for their individual practices, as well as acknowledging how they contribute to the global network is necessary to ensure an active and cohesive network.

When we think about Leadership: Empower people; Inspire people; Shared vision; Lead change – we as First Peoples have a gamut of options and avenues to explore, especially if we then consider our bi-cultural existence as well.

Although I’ve put forward the global network as our own valid framework for our own distinctive cultural future, if we then choose to validate our works (Art) through the existing domestic channels, the enacting of Leadership as encompassed by those four terms takes on different meanings and requires different frameworks.

This is because the terms of reference are usually so foreign, or juxtaposed.

On one hand we have the expression of First Peoples, and on the other we have structures devised and implemented by a society entrenched in its own culture of oppression and suppression of First Peoples.

So in our attempts to combat these structures and associated attitudes, our task will continue to be the shifting or removal of the sideline, whereas with a global network it will be about the horizon or the skies.

See also