25 Nov Encounters program concludes
As a legacy of the award-winning Encounters Exhibition developed by the British Museum and the National Museum of Australia (N.M.A.), The Prince’s Charities Australia and the N.M.A. created and jointly funded the Encounters Indigenous Cultural Workers Scholarship program to provide participants with the necessary skills to preserve Indigenous and Torres Strait culture for future generations.
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of both the British and Australian exhibitions, provided guidance for the development and structure of the scholarship program.
The Encounters Exhibition was the result of more than five years’ work between the N.M.A. and the British Museum, and included extensive consultation with 27 remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.
Following the Exhibition, Indigenous communities sought opportunities to develop skills in cultural work, more specifically in developing capacity within their communities to document, preserve and communicate aspects of their cultural lives.
“I am truly humbled and feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to experience all of the wonderful cultural fusion at the many museums we visited at London, Oxford and Cambridge. It has also been a very emotional journey connecting spiritually with our ancestors through our interaction with our traditional artefacts that have left their homelands post-colonialism. Through them our culture presently continues to thrive in all aspects life. Wonderful relationships have been fostered and existing ones strengthened. Big thank you to all who have made our experience a memorable one that will remain close to my heart.”
Leitha Assan, Scholarship Awardee (Torres Strait Islands)
The resulting 12-week pilot scholarship program begin in September and was designed to facilitate an outstanding national and international learning experience for Indigenous and Torres Strait cultural workers from regional and remote communities, and provide opportunities to develop and enhance their cultural, creative and artistic talents.
Through a competitive application process in the first half of 2016, six scholarship recipients across Australia were selected based on their existing skills, and their dedication and passion for preserving their Indigenous crafts and culture.
The program was tailored for each awardee, based on their designated community cultural development project they will lead and deliver within their communities. Between September and November this year, this learning process took recipients to the N.M.A., the British Museum, The Prince’s
School for Traditional Arts, Cambridge and Oxford Universities and a number of other culturally significant institutions in Britain, including the Royal Collection and event in their honour at Australia House hosted by His Excellency The Hon. Alexander Downer AC, Australian High Commissioner to the U.K.
The program concluded yesterday with Janine Kirk AM, Chief Executive, joining Dr Matthew Trinca, Director, N.M.A. and program supporters in Canberra to celebrate the completion of the program with the six-scholarship recipients.
P.C.A. and N.M.A. are currently reviewing the pilot program with the participants. Funding is currently being sought to ensure the continuation of this outstanding and unique program of cultural discovery.