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Graduation ceremony and facility opening at NAISDA: speech.



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Speech to graduation ceremony and facility opening at NAISDA Thursday 16 August, 2001

The Hon Peter McGauran, MP

Thankyou Di.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land.

Colin Markham, Gianfranco Cresciani, distinguished guests, alumni, ladies and gentlemen.

Indigenous art and performance goes from strength to strength.

Each year, greater numbers of people seize the opportunity to witness indigenous performers fusing cultural elements from their proud ancestries with an intensely contemporary sensibility.

Each year, more and more Australians make a conscious decision to test their cultural thresholds, to enter, however briefly, into a cultural space to which they are unaccustomed.

And what they find there is such a depth of expression and such excellence in performance, that they return for more.

It is no coincidence that one institution stands behind so many of the indigenous performers now captivating the country and the world.

NAISDA.

The thrilling indigenous sequence during the opening ceremony of last year's Olympic Games was choreographed by a NAISDA graduate: Stephen Page.

Another graduate, Christine Anu, sang during the closing ceremony.

It was from NAISDA that the celebrated international dance company Bangarra was formed.

It was here that well-known indigenous dancers like Frances Rings and Marilyn Miller trained.

For a quarter of a century now, NAISDA has been this country's premier indigenous dance training institute.

From an ambitious Australia Council initiative, it has grown into the organisation of which we are so proud today,.

In recent years it has received annual operational funding from the Federal Government as a centre seeking excellence - a sign of the Government's commitment to rewarding outstanding training efforts.

That commitment was evident too in the Government's determination to help NAISDA secure a more permanent home in Sydney, at a time when there was talk of a possible relocation.

As well as maintaining operational funding in recent years, the Commonwealth provided a grant of $770,000 for refurbishment of these premises.

The refurbishment has been done in two stages, and has been ably overseen by the New South Wales Department of Public Works and Services.

I have already had the pleasure of helping to celebrate the opening of the magnificent dance studio.

How satisfying it is to be back here today, to see the completion of the refurbishments, including the sound recording studio and the sound-proof classroom, and to participate in the passing-out of the latest NAISDA graduates.

NAISDA attracts some of the finest creative talent in the country.

This afternoon, we launched nine more NAISDA graduates upon their way.

They take with them a profound awareness of this land's cultural heritage, absorbed through first-hand studies of dance, craft, language, music and lifestyle.

But they bring something with them too: a creative intelligence, an artistic sophistication and a degree of technical skill that will ensure the survival and evolution of indigenous Australian cultures.

The work NAISDA does is immensely important.

And the results, as graduates find work as dancers, teachers, choreographers, actors, musicians and arts administrators, speak for themselves.

I am certain that NAISDA will continue to be at the forefront of training Australia's indigenous performers of the future.

We have already had a taste of what NAISDA students are capable of.

I understand we are to be treated to another sample.

So, let's be entertained.

It gives me pleasure to declare the NAISDA refurbishments complete.

Thankyou.