hART break

So­cial arts group at risk of clo­sure

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ali­cia Per­era

So­cial jus­tice arts group Big hART has been forced to be­gin leav­ing Roe­bourne af­ter more than six years of pro­duc­ing cel­e­brated com­mu­nity projects with lo­cal youth be­cause of gov­ern­ment in­de­ci­sion on fund­ing.

The fu­ture of the na­tional arts or­gan­i­sa­tion in Roe­bourne, where it is com­pany in res­i­dence at the Ngurin Cul­tural Cen­tre, is up in the air af­ter the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is yet to de­cide on a fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tion lodged eight months ago and State Gov­ern­ment depart­ments have for months put off com­mit­ting money to in­di­vid­ual projects.

Big hART cre­ative direc­tor Scott Rankin said their fund­ing in Roe­bourne from a range of gov­ern­ment, cor­po­rate and phil­an­thropic sources had dwin­dled in the past few years and fi­nally reached a cri­sis point, at a time when the com­mu­nity needed an “emer­gency re­sponse”.

“It’s a tragedy ... it’s ab­so­lutely heart-wrench­ing be­cause it’s a won­der­ful com­mu­nity, we love work­ing there and there’s so much po­ten­tial,” he said.

“This is a com­mu­nity where the young peo­ple don’t have the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as (those) in other com­mu­ni­ties and this has to be ad­dressed.”

Big hART staff were this week vis­it­ing Gov­ern­ment min­is­ters to pro­cure more fund­ing past their end-of-Septem­ber dead­line.

A spokesman for Fed­eral Indige­nous Af­fairs Min­is­ter Nigel Scul­lion said Big hART’s fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tion had been re­ceived and was pro­gress­ing through the as­sess­ment pro­cess. But he could not spec­ify when a fi­nal de­ci­sion was likely to be made.

Big hART has been work­ing in Roe­bourne since 2011 when they were in­vited by a group of fe­male elders to help tell more pos­i­tive sto­ries about Roe­bourne and fa­cil­i­tate gen­er­a­tional change through in­ter­ac­tive arts projects.

Since then they have worked closely with com­mu­nity mem­bers, in­clud­ing 80 per cent of the town’s young peo­ple, to pro­duce a string of ac­claimed pro­duc­tions, in­clud­ing Roe­bourne 150th an­niver­sary per­for­mance Tjaabi, theatre per­for­mance Hip­bone Stick­ing Out, in­spired by the life of death-in-cus­tody vic­tim John Pat, and in­ter­ac­tive dig­i­tal comic se­ries Neo­mad, which last year won Aus­tralia’s top comic prize, the Gold Ledger.

The de­par­ture of Big hART would also mean Roe­bourne’s cul­tural cen­tre will have no per­ma­nent arts pres­ence. “It’s go­ing to be empty and un­used and a waste of a re­ally great piece of in­fra­struc­ture,” Mr Rankin said.

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