Ballarat artists take to the stage for Yirramboi First Nations arts festival

Yirramboi-festival-Coconut-Woman-photo-by-Tobi-Sam-MorrisWith support from the Victorian Government, a team of Ballarat artists have taken to the stage for the world premiere of their play, Coconut Woman, as part of Melbourne’s Yirramboi festival.

Writer, director and producer Maryanne Sam, actors Deb Lowah Clarke and Tobi Sam Morris, and musician Jayden Lillyst are among hundreds of Victorian-based artists whose work has been supported through the latest round of the VicArts Grants program.

Maryanne Sam received a $25,000 grant to present the show, which explores and celebrates her Torres Strait Islander culture.

The play features comedy, drama and music to tell the story of a woman from the city whose work draws her to the Torres Strait Islands, the ancestral home of her late mother. There, a comedy of errors ensues as she navigates Ailan culture and her newfound Ailan family.

“Our VicArts Grants program is all about backing local creatives like Maryanne Sam – so they have a platform to share their work with audiences across the state,” said Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson.

Coconut Woman continues to 15 May at the Meat Market, North Melbourne as part of the Yirramboi First Nations arts festival and is one of almost 100 diverse creative projects to share in funding totaling more than $2.5 million for independent artists and small organisations through Creative Victoria.

The latest recipients include artists working across the breadth of the creative industries, including theatre, dance, literature, visual art, community collaborations, works for children and more.

The program has also provided grants for the presentation of creative events including the upcoming Yarra Valley Writers Festival, support for a 12-month mentorship initiative for emerging artists with Disability and a program addressing gender diversity in the music industry through mentoring of girls and gender diverse youth.

For more information and to view the full list of projects supported through the VicArts Grants program, visit: for details.

Image: Coconut Woman – photo by Tobi Sam-Morris