Arts can make a telling mark for Indigenous Australia

The Arts can provide a powerful tool for Indigenous people to make their mark on contemporary Australia – to amplify calls for social justice and inclusiveness, and stir debate for accelerated reconciliation.

Internationally acclaimed Indigenous Australian playwright and artistic director Wesley Enoch AM will explore these themes in his keynote address “Making Marks: Arts and Social Justice” as part of the presentation of the 2022 Peace Foundation Artist in Residence, at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute (253 Grenfell St, Adelaide) at 7pm on Thursday 29 September.

The event, hosted by Flinders University’s Assemblage Centre for Creative Arts and the Graham F. Smith Peace Foundation, will explain how the Arts can change hearts and minds, build community and create a prototype for our preferred society of the future.

“The Arts touch people deeply by telling stories that bind us and help us understand different cultural reference points. Often as artists, we downplay our influence, preferring to think of arts as a luxury or a financial commodity rather than a fundamental to the functioning of a healthy society,” says Mr Enoch.

“There are so many wicked problems in the world – climate change, war, disadvantage, poverty – and these problems won’t be solved through politics alone, but also through culture.”

“The Arts has healing properties to create empathy-building opportunities, can explore problem-solving options, can challenge the status quo, empower the minority or distract you for a moment in times of hardship or trauma.”

“Artists need to take up the challenge to be relevant and engaged in the aspirations of a community.”

“If we are to build a stronger society and a more humane and peaceful community, we must find more ways to leave a positive mark.”

“Everyone is invited to participate equally in society, and the Arts is an invitation for all of us to contribute and empower each other.”

Wesley Enoch, a proud Quandamooka man from Stradbroke Island in Queensland, was Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre Company (2010-15) and Artistic Director at the Sydney Festival (2017-20). He is the QUT Indigenous Chair of Creative Industries.

He has written and directed iconic Indigenous theatre productions – including The 7 Stages of Grieving, which he directed and co-wrote with Deborah Mailman, and The Sunshine Club for Queensland Theatre Company, which won the 2000 Matilda Award and the 2001 Deadly Award for Best Direction. His play The Story of the Miracles at Cookie’s Table won the 2005 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award.

His most recent works are a new production of The Sunshine Club with Queensland Theatre, and A Raisin in the Sun with Sydney Theatre Company.

Mr Enoch’s keynote address at Tandanya on 29 September will be followed by a Q+A session led by Associate Professor Simone Ulalka Tur, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University. The MC for the evening will be Garry Stewart, internationally recognised choreographer and director.

• Bookings for this event are essential and tickets can be obtained online by clicking here.

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College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences