Celebrating the inaugural Creative Australia Award recipients

AAR-Professor-Deborah-Cheetham-Fraillon-photo-by-Stefanie-ZingsheimBeloved Australian singer-songwriter Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO is amongst eight recipients of the inaugural 2023 Creative Australia Awards. Creative Australia is delighted to present these awards, which recognise the contribution of outstanding artists to their art forms and to the cultural life of the nation.

The recipients are awarded for excellence in the fields of music, literature, community arts and cultural development, emerging and experimental art, visual arts, theatre, and dance. The 2023 recipients are:

Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO – Creative Australia Don Banks Music Award
Over the course of her career Deborah has strongly advocated for both advantaged and disadvantaged communities including her proud support for the LGBTQI+ community, and Stolen Generations as a person with lived experience. She has provided artistic excellence and artistic leadership bringing diverse communities together through the impact of music.

“Music is my way of understanding the world I live in and giving meaning to it. It’s a privilege, a responsibility to do that to the best of my ability every single day. I was completely blown away when I was told that I was receiving the Don Banks Music Award,” said Deborah.

Dalisa Pigram – Creative Australia Award for Dance
Dalisa’s creative and cultural work speaks to who we are as a nation now and looks to a future that we want to see. A Yawuru/Bardi woman with Malay and Filipino heritage, born and raised in Broome, Dalisa’s work is deeply embedded in community and soaked in country, but it is also intercultural, and expands beyond many cultural lineages. She is an artist, a teacher, a cultural custodian, a mentor, and advocate.

“To win an award for my contribution to dance is quite special and to be acknowledged by those that I regard as dancers I feel really honoured,” said Dalisa.

Latai Taumoepeau – Creative Australia Award for Emerging and Experimental Arts
Latai showcases all the values of a recipient of this award, working as an artist and a champion of experimental works being presented in traditional spaces, sharing ancestry and art in a grounded and striking way.

“I feel really honoured to be acknowledged. It feels like a real acknowledgment of a lot of things that I’ve done, and I find it really moving and I’m proud and I wish my mum was here to see it,” said Latai.

Alexis Wright – Creative Australia Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature 
Alexis is an author of ground-breaking works across a number of literary genres. She is a highly decorated and awarded author who writes extraordinarily important work that sits in your consciousness. Her novels interpret the past, present, and future tense and challenge the readers’ comprehension. She has changed how we think about the meaning of storytelling and time.

“I feel deeply honoured and really humbled to receive this award. It’s a lifetime achievement in literature. I am deeply humbled by something like this, but I also want to say I’m not finished yet. I’ve got a lot more writing to come,” said Alexis.

Khaled Sabsabi – Creative Australia Award for Visual Arts
Khaled’s practice is sustained and extraordinary. He is a champion of the diversity of Australian art and his contribution is only just starting to be properly acknowledged. This award will be significant in celebrating Khaled’s talent and contribution to visual arts.

“I am truly humbled and honoured to receive this award, especially since the decision was made by peers. I would like to acknowledge and thank all who have believed in, engaged with, and supported the art and creative processes I have made over the years,” said Khaled.

Annette Downs – Creative Australia Award for Theatre
Annette’s contribution to the theatre sector in Tasmania is unparalleled. She has made a significant artistic contribution as an artist, performer, and Artistic Director of Terrapin, as a producer across 17 years at Performing Lines Tasmania and for the lasting impact and influence her work has had on the Tasmanian and national theatre sector.   

“To have this national recognition from Creative Australia is an affirmation I did not expect and greatly appreciate. I’m grateful to know my work has been valued by the sector. I’m one of those fortunate people for whom work is also a vocation,” said Annette.

Hannah Morphy-Walsh – Creative Australia Kirk Robson Award for Community Arts and Cultural Development
As an emerging practitioner, Hannah represents the artistic vibrancy, authenticity, and activation of her community through cultural practice. Hannah (Nirae Baluk, of the Hamilton/Walsh line) who self identifies as “a professionally awkward, Deaf/Disabled storyteller” is an exemplar of the next generation of practitioners.

“Winning the Kirk Robson Award is a huge career moment. It is motivation to keep doing what I’m doing but better,” said Hannah.

Jacinta Mooney – Creative Australia Ros Bower Award for Community Arts and Cultural Development
Awarding Jacinta the Ros Bower Award will shine a light on the remarkable and tireless work she leads within Katherine and its surrounding region. She is fiercely invisible and dedicated to community and cultural development for a significant footprint within the Northern Territory. She is the embodiment of resilience, making an outstanding and sustained contribution, both as an educator and leader.

“With community arts it’s all about relationships that you form with people and getting people to trust you and probably lots of cups of tea too. I’m very lucky to work in this job because I see people really quite transformed,” said Jacinta.

“It is an honour to recognise these wonderful artists. They have all made an invaluable contribution to Australian art across genres and are thoroughly deserving,” said Creative Australia CEO Adrian Collette AM.

“They are not only making transformative art but are also supporting the wellbeing of their communities and are role-models for the next generation of great Australian creatives. I thank them for their work and wish them continuing success.”

The 2023 recipients will be celebrated in a series of short-form videos and interviews on ABC TV, and iView sharing a profile of each recipient and their practice.

The announcement of the 2023 Creative Australia Award recipients coincides with ABC Arts Week: 18 – 24 September as part of a broader partnership between Creative Australia and the ABC.

For more information about the Creative Australia Awards and the Recipients, visit: www.creative.gov.au for details.

Image: Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO – photo by Stefanie Zingsheim