How Tandanya is promoting Indigenous artists

Australia's National Aboriginal Cultural Institute is highlighting First Nations talent this Fringe

feature (adelaide) | Read in About 3 minutes
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Spirit presented by Yellaka
Photo by Tony Virgo
Published 06 Feb 2020

Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute is the only Indigenous culture and arts institute in Australia. Meaning 'place of the red kangaroo', Tandanya has created the first ever First Nations Hub this Adelaide Fringe, featuring a lineup of solely Indigenous artists.

In late 2019, Senior Kaurna Custodian Karl 'Winda' Telfer accepted an appointment to the board. “We are tracking a new way forward, built on the foundations of the founding members from our community,” says Telfer. “I honor those original board members, the old people who fought hard and long for the creation of Tandanya.” 

Tandanya is celebrating its 30th year, and Dennis Stokes, Tandanya CEO, is excited about this cultural renewal. “As the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, it is important that we are supporting and promoting Indigenous artists from around the country,” Stokes says. “We are really excited to relaunch the space for Fringe 2020 and for how this will grow in the future. We are also excited to establish Tandanya as a national cultural and artistic leader.”

"Once we’ve sparked this cultural and spiritual renewal then we can invite the wider community in to learn more,” says Telfer. "Tandanya is our place and we can’t lose it. It’s what the old people fought so hard for. That’s why we want people to come walk with us."

The lineup is excitingly diverse, including theatre, comedy, cabaret, dance, workshops and the Yabarra immersive project Dreaming in Light. Sasha Zahra, creative producer, has curated an inclusive sharing hub. “We want to create a space where First Nations artists from our local, national and global community feel welcome,” Zahra says. “It is a space for artists to gather, be together, to share story as well as presenting their work.” The Tandanya Cafe will provide the opportunity for these gatherings in a relaxed atmosphere where people can share their experiences.

Adelaide Fringe Ambassador Fez Faanana is hosting Black List Cabaret – the only cabaret show with an entire cast of people of colour. Melbourne-based The Merindas are taking over Ngunyawayiti (Tandanya Theatre) for one night only with their infectious, upbeat electronic sound. Yellaka are also presenting Spirit. Weaving dance, story and language, Yellaka breathe new life into ancient story in a tale of respect and truth telling.

Tandanya is truly building something special as the only First Nations Hub and creating a welcoming space for all to experience Australia’s oldest culture. “We haven’t created something new,” Telfer states. “We have strengthened our cultural circle and invited all communities to share in our circle and become connected through experiencing what our cultures have to offer.”