The Australia Council for the Arts is proud to announce that 50 of Australia's best Indigenous artists will attend the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts (FOPA) to be held in the Solomon Islands' capital, Honiara on July 1 - 14.

The Australian delegation of 50 artists, the largest ever to attend, represents an extensive range of Indigenous artforms and cultural practices, from dance and visual arts in the Torres Strait, desert reggae in Papunya, fabric design in the Tiwi to glassworks and poetry in Canberra.

Amongst the selected artists are the Tjupi Band, who are part of a new wave of Indigenous Australian reggae; the Chooky Dancers, widely known through their previous work, Wrong Skin (Ngurrumilmarrmiryu) and their appearance in the film Bran Nue Dae; Sharon Phineasa, whose passion for preserving culture through artistic expression leads to work across artforms including, painting, printmaking, collage, sculpture and carving; and singer/songwriter Jess Beck creates a unique blend of pop, folk and jazz with her band.

The delegation was selected by the curatorial team of Marilyn Miller, Wesley Enoch, Vernon Ah Kee and Nadine McDonald, with the Queensland Theatre Company.

"I would like to thank the curatorial team for taking such care in selecting this year's delegation," says Kathy Keele, CEO of the Australia Council. "Each artist selected is an exceptional representative of their communities and their cultural traditions, both past and present."

"In full, we see a delegation that is rich in traditional arts and culture, but also displays the vibrancy of contemporary Indigenous arts practice," says Kathy.
Held every four years since its inception in 1972, FOPA brings together 2,500 performers, artists and cultural practitioners from 27 countries and territories across the Pacific region.

FOPA offers Indigenous peoples the opportunity to share customary practices in dance, music, food and crafts. The festival bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary cultural expression, while revitalising and reflecting on traditional arts and culture.

"Australia Council's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts (ATSIA) board is proud to present and share the cultural expression of Indigenous Australia as part of the world's largest gathering of Indigenous Pacific cultures," says Lee-Ann Buckskin, Chair of the Australia Council's ATSIA board. "It's a wonderful opportunity to share the best of our culture with our Pacific brothers and sisters, as well as build connections beyond our borders."

"It's more than an artistic and cultural exchange between individuals," says Lee-Ann. "It's a social and political exchange between people, between cultures and between countries."

This year, FOPA will reach a much wider audience than ever before, thanks to an innovative online strategy. A team, including a dedicated blogger, will create digital stories so that people who are unable to attend the festival in Honiara can witness daily activity.

The Australian delegation also for the first time includes film and documentary makers who will both document and contribute creatively to the festival program.