The Song Room’s ‘Deadly Arts’ programs have commenced for 2015 at Hebersham and St Mary’s North Public Schools in Western Sydney. The 2015 programs were launched with a visit from Senior Aboriginal Elder Uncle Wes Marne who conducted a smoking ceremony, followed by a session on storytelling, dreamtime and culture.
‘Deadly Arts’ is an Indigenous Arts program designed to engage and educate Indigenous and non-Indigenous students about local Aboriginal stories and culture and to encourage the wider community to connect back to the cultural richness of our First Australians by promoting a sense of pride and understanding.
While the art forms change each year to meet the specific needs of the communities, the program outcomes remain focussed on positively and inclusively impacting Indigenous and non-Indigenous children’s success and retention at school by supporting wellbeing, engagement in learning, parental involvement and recognition of cultural heritage.
The Song Room’s extensive community consultation during the development of the program is critical to its success. All program content is developed through meetings and discussions with local Aboriginal elders, the Aboriginal Teaching Artist, as well as the school principals and teachers. Local Aboriginal Education Officers and the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group work closely with the Aboriginal Teaching Artist and the schools to support community-driven best practice.
In 2014, the program culminated in a huge performance at the Blacktown Arts Centre, with over 700 students sharing a performance with their peers, parents and community. The performance was based on two of Uncle Wes Marne’s poems, which drew on themes of the stolen generation, loss of cultural identity, displacement, Aboriginal Lore, family and a longing for life on land. The amazing story of this event is told in A Decade of Difference ‚Äì The Song Room’s 10th Anniversary commemorative book available at our online store.
“I really cannot think of any other event that has achieved so much. You have united five schools, you have engaged all of our students, staff and communities in learning about and celebrating aboriginal history and culture in an authentic and respectful way.” – Principal, Shalvey Public School, Mt Druitt
This year, students will embark on a multi-disciplinary journey incorporating an outdoor public visual art project, a contemporary dance piece and accompanying soundscape, as well as a gardening project in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, growing plants used for medicine, spiritual significance and bush tucker ‚Äì the latter to be incorporated into the schools’ cooking program.
The Deadly Arts program could not be possible without the generous support of the Crown Resorts Foundation, Packer Family Foundation, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, Eureka Benevolent Fund and Mission Australia.