RMIT: RMIT proudly joins forces with Blak & Bright Festival

A rich program of cultural activities and hands-on experience for students will be the focus of a new partnership with RMIT and the Blak & Bright First Nations Literary Festival.

RMIT Culture will co-present the official opening event on Friday 18 March that features the University’s Vice Chancellor’s Indigenous Research Fellow Crystal McKinnon.

Blak & Bright Festival Director Jane Harrison said she was excited about the significant partnership and further opportunities to celebrate and showcase the diverse expression of First Nations voices.

‘We are thrilled to be partnering and collaborating with RMIT Culture,” she said.

“We have designed a bold new festival with new talent, new stories and new events, delivered in new hybrid ways, while bringing back old favourites.

“We figure Blak stories are needed more urgently than ever, in the face of climate change, pandemics, and ‘Blak Lives Matter’.

“We need access to connection, compassion and country through stories. Here’s to Blak words live!

“Our work together this year also includes offering one of our programmed writers a creative residency at RMIT’s McCraith House, working with Masters of Writing and Publishing students on a series of podcasts.”

With programming inspired by literature and ideas, RMIT students will collaborate with the Blak & Bright team to support various aspects of the festival. Students from the Bowen Street Press will also produce social media, podcasts and a book featuring writing, poetry and spoken word from Blak & Bright artists performed across the four days.

Tracy O’Shaughnessy, Program Director of the Master of Writing and Publishing and publisher of the Bowen Street Press, said she was excited about the hands-on experience the partnership offered students.

“This extraordinary opportunity will see RMIT’s Master of Writing and Publishing’s Bowen Street Press student interns working alongside the Black & Bright team during the festival and collaborating on a publication and podcast after the event,” she said.

“We are privileged to be given this opportunity and the wonderful gift of access and insight into First Nation perspectives through their writers and creators.”

Blak & Bright’s 2022 program will bring together the world’s oldest storytelling traditions in bold and innovative ways. Featuring over 65 exciting storytellers, the program includes masterclasses, keynotes, walking tours, poetry, politics and a Blackfulla bookclub.

RMIT Culture is thrilled to be co-presenting the Opening Night of the Festival at The Capitol, which will include a commissioned performance by Philly, Bryan Andy, James Henry and Steven Rhall, exploring men’s mental health using music and spoken word.

The performance will be followed by special guest, Melissa Lucashenko, in conversation around the theme ‘What’s Changed? What’s Stayed the Same?’, also featuring Crystal McKinnon, Jazz Money, Alexis Wright and Glenn Shea.

Crystal McKinnon has also curated the Yung Tent Embassy, taking place on the State Library forecourt and featuring activists from a range of social justice sites presenting their curated, passionate ten-minute talks with time for audience responses.

RMIT Culture’s Manager Partnered Projects, Ali Barker, said the team was delighted to be working with the dedicated staff and volunteers at Blak Bright.

“It’s also been really rewarding to connect our creative residency program with this partnership and offering a Blak & Bright Festival artist time at RMIT’s McCraith House in Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula later in 2022,” she said.

“This program offers recipients an opportunity to work on a project in a tranquil and secluded environment. And of course, we’re excited to bring the festival opening to The Capitol.”

The recipient of this year’s inaugural Blak & Bright residency will be announced as part of the Opening Night celebrations.

The Blak & Bright program will also feature Veronica Gorrie, who recently won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for her memoir Black & Blue, Daniel Browning, Declan Fry, Nayuka Gorrie, Ellen van Neerven, Tara June Winch, Nardi Simpson, Tony Birch alongside many other exciting new voices.

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