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 Encounters exhibitions of 2015, 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 feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to participate in the Encounters Cultural Workers Scholarship. Thanks to The Princes Charities Australia and the National Museum of Australia, I was able to create networks with the wonderful people we met at the museums and cultural institutions, both in Canberra and England. It’s been a spiritual journey for me, it has broadened my world knowledge and enabled me to successfully implement strategies for the development of our cultural centre. A great experience!! I loved it. Want to go back! A place of like- minded people at the Prince's School of Traditional Arts".
"Thank you Prince's Charities Australia, and the family within the Prince's School of Traditional Arts for this amazing experience. The preciousness of what I have learnt about traditional arts practices and other cultures will be truly blessed in my community and I am privileged to pass this on to my people. Thank you for the opportunity."
"It has been such a privilege to have been a part of the Encounters Indigenous Cultural Workers Scholarships. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Prince's School of Traditional Arts with staff and students. Learning about the school and other projects they offer to the communities around the world has been really interesting. I would like to thank and pass on my gratitude to Janine Kirk and the Prince's Charities Australia for making the experience possible."
"I feel really blessed and grateful to be a part of a cultural affirming and intellectual engaging overseas scholarship experience. The visits to various museums in London, Oxford and Cambridge provided insights and network opportunities. Additionally, the time spent at the Prince's School of Traditional Arts gave a tantalising taste to the school's traditional arts methodologies and philosophies. I loved it and would highly recommended the program."
“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.”
The resulting 12-week pilot scholarship program begin in September 2016 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 in November 2016 with Janine Kirk AM, Chief Executive, P.C.A, 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. Both organisations have committed to stay in touch with our participants from 2016 to assist them as they implement the knowledge gained from the program into their communities.
Please stay turned for further updates on future Encounter Indigenous Cultural Workers Scholarship programs with announcements to occur later in 2017.
If supporting such a program would be of interest to you, please do contact P.C.A or N.M.A for further information.
2016 Pilot Program supporters below: