Barpirdhila Foundation’s First Nations Artists & Community COVID-19 Appeal


The Coronavirus pandemic has cast many workers and their families into despair, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and arts workers. As a sector with a significant reliance on audience engagement and live performance, the creative industries have been thrown into disarray. Many (most) artists and performers have lost multiple gigs and opportunities, and this is also true for organisations that coordinate and support artists, such as the Barpirdhila Foundation (Barpirdhila).

Melbourne-based with a National focus, and led by a strong and capable board (including rapper/performer Briggs, educator/journalist Inala Cooper, visual artist Reko Rennie, and curator/writer Kimberley Moulton), Barpirdhila are a not-for-profit community-led organisation established to nurture and develop First Nations artists and arts workers. Established in 2018, and having a steady initial growth through delivering strong sustainable outcomes and programs, Barpirdhila are focused on creating and supporting genuine self-determination and empowerment. Through this overwhelming pandemic, Barpirdhila are committed to maintaining a supportive presence, by attempting to provide pathways and opportunities through a sector that has become more complex than ever – a concept that very few artists could have ever conceptualised.

Madi Colville-Walker photographed by Jacinta Keefe at Barpirdhila’s “Yawulyu” shows

In response to this National crisis, Barpirdhila have launched a fundraising appeal with two specific aims:

  • To raise funds for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19
  • To distribute funds to high priority Indigenous health services

The appeal page states that “All funds raised will be distributed directly to areas where significant impact can be achieved, for the empowerment and support of First Nations people. This may include donations to organisations already providing critical supports”.  Barpirdhila General Manager, Nathan Leitch, has stated that a draft framework for funding distribution will be publicised on Tuesday April 14th, and will include information such as:

  • Decision-making processes for funding distribution
  • Areas already identified for funding, which may include:
    • Expression of interest process for small grants
    • Application process for Emergency relief
    • Immediate commencement of (online) paid performance opportunities
    • Intention to distribute funds to ACCHOs

Accountability is foundational in all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures, and Barpirdhila have an ongoing and fervent commitment to this non-negotiable principal, especially now that financial support is being requested from the public.

With the goal set at $50k, Barpirdhila believe that good immediate responses can be created, with the intention of seeing as much long-term vision as possible. In the current climate, many artists are feeling pressure to perform as a means of survival, and this may come with its own barriers – including the simple costs of maintaining a craft, or even maintaining good mental health.

Lil Kootise photographed by Jacinta Keefe at Barpirdhila’s “Yawulyu” shows

The appeal will attempt to simplify some of these barriers. Some potential examples of this may include:

  • Provision of equipment needed to record and/or livestream performances
  • Provision of funding to ensure access to SEWB services is possible
  • Provision of musician consumables, such as guitar strings and drum sticks (items which can be an expensive cost often tied to regular performance income)
  • Brokerage and support for professional development

Barpirdhila encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and arts workers to get in touch via [email protected] to register your needs.

To support this appeal, find the Barpirdhila Foundation on Instagram and Facebook – like and share, using the hashtag #FNC19Appeal or go directly to the appeal page.

Feature Image: Maya Hodge, photographed by Jacinta Keefe at Barpirdhila’s “Yawulyu” shows.

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