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Progressive partners for arts

AN innovative partnership between WMC Resources and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts has built a stairway to the stars and inspired creativity in indigenous communities in regional WA.

WMC Resources will donate $180,000 by the end of the second three-year partnership for a number of different programs, all developed to encourage indigenous participation in the arts.

The three programs include a Statewide arts competition held each year for Aboriginal high school students, five scholarships for Aboriginal students to study at WAAPA and an annual artists in residence program in remote Aboriginal communities.

WMC Resources group manager corporate affairs Peter Clough said WAAPA approached WMC in 1997 looking for some sort of support.

“It fitted very well with the sorts of things our company tries to be involved with,” he said. “We’re the one industry that is very closely in contact with indigenous people.

“It’s also an opportunity for our people to become aware of what’s going on in terms of the whole arts and performance arts area.”

The programs have proved a valuable springboard for a number of Aboriginal artists, including musician Alice Haines and her band Acoustic Dreaming, who won a WAMI Award for the best Aboriginal contemporary band,

“This is something we should be doing, we’ve got an Aboriginal employment program as well … none of our stuff is about hand outs, it’s about opportunities,” Mr Clough said.

WAAPA director Bill Gillespie said the partnership was about reaching out to younger kids to get them to think of the arts as an option.

“A lot of these kids come from disadvantaged backgrounds where for boys the only ticket out of there is sport,” he said.

“And above all else it’s encouraging and developing young people so they consider the arts as a career move.

“You just never know who’s out there … and it broadens the options kids have.”

This creative partnership has been short-listed for the 2000/2001 State Arts Sponsorship Awards.

The next issue of Business News will feature a special feature on the 2000/2001 State Arts Sponsorship Awards including a complete list of the award finalists.

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