NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.

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2023 Graduation Day

On Sunday, July 23 NIDA held its annual Graduation Day for the 2022 cohort of Master of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Diploma students with 161 graduates awarded their certificates.

In a packed NIDA Parade Theatre and joined by family, friends and faculty the event was hosted by NIDA’s Head of First Nations Travis Cardona with a welcome to country by Aunty Lola Ryan and cultural performance by Uncle in Residence Matthew Doyle.

NIDA CEO Liz Hughes said on the day: “I am very proud that NIDA has once again produced an outstanding cohort of graduates across all disciplines. I know you will all go on to shape the future of the Australian arts, culture, screen and entertainment sectors.”

From left to right: Noel Staunton (NIDA Chair), Liz Hughes (NIDA CEO), Annette Shun Wah (Honorary Degree recipient), The Hon. Tony Burke MP (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for the Arts)

From left to right: BFA Acting graduates James Caspersz-Loney and Tamara Foglia Castaneda, The Hon. Tony Burke MP, Minister for Employment
and Workplace Relations and Minister for the Arts and BFA Costume graduate Jasmin Gray.

Tony Burke MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for the Arts was a special guest and gave a stirring speech to the new graduates on the vital importance of the arts industry. He said “I have a real sense of admiration. You today are graduating to be essential workers in Australia. Essential. Never let it be said by anyone that you are anything less than that... your career is essential for who we are as a nation and who we will be in the future. I've got an absolute sense of admiration for you.”

Every year, NIDA recognises those who are making a significant contribution to the performing arts industry, both in Australia and globally. NIDA First Nations Consultant Rhoda Roberts AM presented the Honorary Masters Degree in Fine Arts to Annette Shun Wah, an artistic powerhouse who has created cultural connections and nurtured those in the arts community for many years.

In 2003, Annette took the reins of the Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (or CAAP) as Executive Producer and since 2020 has held the role of Artistic Director of Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival – Australia’s largest annual multi-arts festival framed by the cultural connections between Asia and Australia.

Annette Shun Wah, recipient of the Honorary Master of Fine Arts

Annette Shun Wah, recipient of the Honorary Master of Fine Arts

Annette’s varied career spans decades; from the 80’s when she worked at the cutting edge of Australian radio on triple j and then television on the ABC and SBS, hosting late night cult favourites like The Noise and Eat Carpet, to working as an actor and being nominated for an AFI Award for her performance in Australia's first foreign language feature film, Floating Life, and in guest roles on television such as  Always Greener, The Young Lions, Packed to the Rafters and Crownies.

Honorary Masters recipient Anette Shun Wah said: “Thank you NIDA for this Honorary Masters, it absolutely means a great deal to me and congratulations to my fellow graduates, you are the ones with the future in your hands, the story is yours to tell, tell it with respect and care and tell it well.”

The Graduate Address was made by Esther Zhong (BFA Costume 2022) who is already being acknowledged in her chosen career of Costume and Design having won a 2021 Sydney Theatre Award for Best Costume Design of an Independent Production for her work on Moon Rabbit Rising. “There’s something truly special about it all and it’s been equally inspiring to study alongside such a passionate bunch.” said Esther.

As NIDA ushered in a diverse and talented group of new alumni, CEO Liz Hughes concluded the day with some final words, “You are now joining NIDA’s stellar alumni who have played a central role in shaping Australia’s cultural identity and have impacted the global industry.”

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