The National Recording Project for
Indigenous Performance in Australia
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The ‘Garma Statement on Indigenous Music
and Dance’ calls on the Australian Government to support and sustain Indigenous performance traditions through the establishment of Indigenous Knowledge Centres, and to recognise the NRP as a National Research Priority.
This statement and its resolutions were drafted and adopted at the first Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance during the 4th Garma Festival in 2002.
Songs, dances and ceremonial performances form the core of Yolŋu and other Indigenous cultures in Australia. It is through song, dance and associated ceremony that Indigenous people sustain their cultures and maintain the Law and a sense of self within the world.
Performance traditions are the foundation of social and personal wellbeing, and with the ever increasing loss of these traditions, the toll grows every year. The preservation of performance traditions is therefore one of the highest priorities for Indigenous people.
Indigenous songs should also be a deeply valued part of the Australian cultural heritage. They represent the great classical music of this land.
These ancient musical traditions were once everywhere in Australia, and now survive as living traditions only in several regions. Many of these are now in danger of being lost forever.
Indigenous performances are one of our most rich and beautiful forms of artistic expression, and yet they remain unheard and invisible within the national cultural heritage. Without immediate action many Indigenous music and dance traditions are in danger of extinction with potentially destructive consequences for the fabric of Indigenous society and culture.
The recording and documenting of the remaining traditions is a matter of the highest priority both for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Many of our foremost composers and singers have already passed away leaving little or no record.
The Symposium on Indigenous Performance proposes the following strategies to address this critical situation.
The Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance calls on the Australian Government to support and sustain Indigenous performance traditions through the establishment of Indigenous Knowledge Centres, and a ‘National Recording Project for Indigenous Performance in Australia’ as a National Research Priority.
The Symposium resolves to pursue funding from the Australian Research Council, and government and industry sectors. Individual participants have resolved to request that governments, universities, industry and philanthropy acknowledge and respond to this urgent need.