Young Aboriginal people in the Geelong region will have opportunities to explore their cultural identity and gain confidence to tell their stories through a new arts program at Geelong Performing Arts Centre.
The Parrwang Youth Arts Program - launched on Thursday March 15 during National Close the Gap Day - will bring together children from pre-school through to VCE in a series of after-school hours activities. They will work with professional artists to explore traditional and contemporary storytelling using dance, drama, singing and visual arts.
Parrwang (magpie in the Wadawurrung language) has evolved from the success of recent activities including the Short Black Opera program and Bangarra dance workshops.
According to Department of Education and Training statistics, there are around 700 students in primary and secondary schools across the region that identify as Aboriginal, however this the first long-term multi-arts program specifically for these young people.
“Parrwang aims to bring these geographically and culturally isolated kids together to explore and learn about culture and identity in a fun and engaging way,” said Geelong Performing Arts Centre General Manager Jill Smith.
The centre has developed the three-year program in consultation with local Aboriginal educators and artists. A program co-ordinator has been appointed to work with professional Aboriginal artists from a range of disciplines to support young Aboriginal people in building self-confidence, develop connections and cultural pride.
Children will participate in structured workshops, events and performances, building towards a Youth Arts Festival.
The program has been funded by the Re Ross Trust and Newsboys Foundation.