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CAN's Michelle White at the WA Delegation of the Purrumpa Gathering

CAN's Michelle White at the WA Delegation of the Purrumpa Gathering
By Community Arts Network
14 November 2022

Hear about the Purrumpa: First Nations Arts & Culture National Gathering in Michelle's words...

Earlier this month I was privileged to be a part of the WA delegation invited to participate at Purrumpa, the largest gathering of First Nations art and culture in fifty years.

is a Kaurna language word meaning ‘to flourish or blossom’ and was generously gifted to the gathering by Kaurna Elder Uncle Lewis O’Brien.

About 400 artists, artworkers and academics from all over the country converged on the Adelaide Convention Centre for 5 days of sharing, learning, inspiring and at times, provocating.

One of my biggest takeaways from the event is just how crucial the arts are to telling the true history of this country. It really hit home just how much heavy lifting the arts is doing in educating Australians about our true history.

Many speakers noted that this is deliberate. By funding the arts to do this important truth telling work, it takes the onus off our education system and cultural institutions, and in some ways makes these truths sit in the space of artistic interpretation, instead of fact.

While the week was packed with arts focussed keynote speeches, panel discussions and creative participation, the upcoming Referendum on Constitutional Recognition and the proposed Voice to Parliament was top of mind.

In her opening address, Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney pleaded with delegates to throw their support behind Recognition and the Voice. Meanwhile, Ilbijerri’s Artistic Director, Rachael Maza echoed the thoughts of many in the room by stating that Recognition must include the statement 'sovereignty never ceded’ and whatever federal body is created, it has to have authority and teeth, or it’s meaningless.

Finally, my favourite quote from the week.

“Stop looking at us a a problem to fix - give us a stage to light up the world” - Imagination Declaration, Indigenous Youth Forum.
  • 20221031 091033 Uncle Moogy Sumner
  • 20221031 083112 Minister David Templeman greeting Team WA on the first day
  • 20221102 230313 Some of the WA State Delegates
  • 20221031 102631 Michelle White (R) with Denien Toomath from SLWA

Hero image credit: We Create Print Deliver


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