NIDA receives $300,000 over 6 years for Indigenous Fellowship in Cultural Leadership and graduate director’s studio

24 January 2017


L–R: Mel George, Peter Brownie, Simon Mordant AM, Jamie Garis, Jennifer Bott AO, Kate Cherry 

NIDA yesterday announced a $300,000 grant by the Luminis Foundation to assist Indigenous creative professionals undertaking a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Cultural Leadership.

The Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship for Cultural Leadership will be awarded annually for 6 years to an Indigenous student undertaking the MFA in Cultural Leadership at NIDA. The fellowship funds 50 per cent of fees for the MFA course so as to financially support Indigenous leaders already playing a pivotal role in shaping Australia’s creative and cultural future.

NIDA’s landmark MFA (Cultural Leadership) course is available to professionals from a broad range of arts and cultural sectors who wish to develop their entrepreneurial and advocacy skills to drive innovation, inclusion, growth and sustainability across the cultural sectors.

Selected by arts advocates Robyn Archer AO (Chair of MFA Cultural Leadership) and Assoc. Prof. Cheryl Stock AM (Director Graduate Studies and Head of Cultural Leadership), NIDA is pleased to announce glass artist Mel George as the inaugural recipient of the Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship for Cultural Leadership.

Mel George is passionate about promoting Indigenous crafts and ensuring they become more integrated into Australian arts and craft practices. Of Aboriginal and Greek heritage, Mel has taught at the prestigious Corning Museum in New York and worked successfully in the glass industry both in Australia and the United States.


‘Although always rumoured amongst some family members, research has unveiled that my paternal grandmother was forced to renounce her Aboriginality and thus, was unable to ever speak about her past and her culture. I see myself as a connector. I want to amplify the visibility of artistic excellence that exists in the most remote and inaccessible areas of our country. I believe that a key part of the long and difficult reconciliation process is through arts and culture. Participating in this course will help develop my knowledge and enable me to better contribute to one of Australia’s most important challenges. I feel privileged to have been chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship for Cultural Leadership and sincerely thank the Luminis Foundation for their support and generosity,’ said Ms George.

‘The Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship for Cultural Leadership is a unique opportunity for an Indigenous professional to become a collaborative leader in the arts and cultural sectors and significantly expand and transform their practice,’ said Assoc. Prof. Cheryl Stock.

‘Building a community of creative practice through networks and partnerships, both locally and worldwide, and in Indigenous and non-Indigenous contexts, is central to the Cultural Leadership program. NIDA is proud to be able to provide this initiative, in association with the Luminis Foundation.’

NIDA CEO Kate Cherry is grateful to Luminis for nurturing Australia’s brightest talent. ‘This generous support embodies investment in merit, excellence and dynamic bridge building. Bravo for the Luminis Foundation’s foresight and generosity. NIDA is so proud to be a part of building exciting new cultural pathways,’ said Ms Cherry.

The partners of Luminis – Simon Mordant AM, Ron Malek, Jamie Garis and Peter Brownie – have been proud and longstanding supporters of the arts and education, and are thrilled the Luminis Foundation can play an instrumental role in supporting Indigenous cultural leaders.

‘We are delighted to not only contribute to the career of a leading indigenous Australian with this outstanding learning opportunity, but also increase the sum total of leadership, knowledge and diversity in the important arts culture and creative sectors through Australia’s world class National Institute of Dramatic Art,’ said Mr Mordant, co-founder of Luminis Partners and a director of the Luminis Foundation.

In addition to the fellowship, the $300,000 grant also supports the Luminis Foundation Director’s Studio, a black box teaching space for NIDA’s MFA students in directing.

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