Arts NSW supporting talent in Aboriginal communities
“An artist must always be true to himself and his art,” says singer-songwriter Marcus Corowa, one of five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders creative artists announced recently as part of the British Council’s annual leadership skills development programme ACCELERATE.
2015 is the second year of Arts NSW’s triennial partnership with the British Council for the ACCELERATE program. The artists will experience tailored leadership programs in Australia and also travel to London for professional placements and mentoring.
Mr. Corowa who left his home and family five years ago to pursue his music in Sydney, it’s an opportunity he’s really excited about. Starting from literally “gigging” on the streets, this self-made musician makes the most of every door that opens for him. “Music is in my blood, I grew up watching my father and grandfather play the guitar and it was passed on to me from the age of six. Music was always a huge part of my life but I never saw it as being my career. After seven years in a soul destroying job I finally got up the courage to follow my dreams and moved to Sydney! It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
“I played my music anywhere and everywhere, often for free at various family fun days in Redfern,” he says. Mr. Corowa’s big break came when he received a grant from Gadigal Music Label to record his first EP, The Greater You.
In 2012, when he was awarded the Deadly award for Most Promising Talent in Music, Mr. Corowa finally made himself known in the music industry. Today he’s diversifying from his musical talents by emceeing, hosting documentaries and even performing a leading role in an upcoming musical The Rabbits. He was also recently asked to perform in China by the Australian Embassy. “Being invited as an independent artist by the embassy to play music for officials was definitely a career highlight for me,” says Mr. Corowa.
As part of ACCELERATE, he will be travelling to UK to participate in professional placements and mentoring with other artists in his industry. “I’m really looking forward to meeting people within the arts and collaborating with different artists,” says Mr.Corowa. “I’ve already gained a lot out of the leadership intensive workshop that I’ve attended in Sydney as part of the program. It was a good chance to reflect on my individual journey, and decide where I want to go and how I need to develop my skills in order to get there.”
Mr. Corowa credits his passion for music and the arts to his upbringing. “Both my father and grandfather played the guitar, and I was always surrounded by storytellers and songs – that’s how my community interacts with each other. I believe arts play an integral part in all communities in sharing knowledge and preserving culture. It’s also a great way to help communicate positive messages and to promote social change.”
The Arts NSW funding will be instrumental (pardon the pun!) in providing Mr. Corowa and the other four creative professionals with international exposure and a chance to broaden their skills and talents in their chosen occupation. “It’s a program designed for artists who are mid level in their careers. I felt it was appropriate and relevant for me and I was thrilled to be chosen,” he says.
What would his advice be to other young people wanting to follow in his footsteps? “Always give things a go, never give up on your dreams and passions. Have a deep self-belief and always back yourself, you never know what opportunities you’ll get when you work hard and follow your passions.”
In its sixth successful year, ACCELERATE provides Indigenous Australians working within the creative industries with the skills and networks to generate, take up and excel in leadership positions. ACCELERATE is aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from across Australia who have at least five years experience in the creative industries and can demonstrate a bold vision for where they want to take their career and their community.