First Nations music survey identifies strengths and challenges

William-White-on-UnsplashA new survey, published by the Australia Council for the Arts, of First Nations musicians provides timely insights into the strengths, challenges and needs of the First Nations music sector.

How do First Nations musicians feel about the music industry? What are the key challenges and needs for the future growth of the sector? These were some of the questions explored in a new survey of First Nations musicians. The survey reflects respondents’ activities and attitudes prior to COVID-19.

The majority of First Nations musicians nominated their ability to inspire, challenge and build understanding between people as being among their greatest strengths, while as many as 73% found the lack of financial return for creative work was the greatest challenge.

Australia Council’s Executive Director Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Lydia Miller said the survey provides a timely glimpse into the experience of First Nations musicians. “The survey results provide insights to inform the music industry as it recovers, rebuilds and looks to the future – a future in which First Nations talent and artistry is nurtured, celebrated and central in the music industry and Australia’s culture,” she said

Ms Miller said First Nations music plays a critical role in Australia’s music identity. “The future growth of the First Nations music sector requires First Nations artists to be at the centre of dialogue and decision-making, driving the creative vision and empowered to step into their role as custodians of the oldest musical practice in the world, ensuring that the next generation can benefit through creativity and participate in a cultural future,” she said.

Key findings of the research found:

  • Strengths of being a First Nations musician include inspiring other First Nations artists (79%), opportunities to educate, challenge and build understanding with non-First Nations people (72%), and creating pathways for the next generations of First Nations musicians (69%).
  • Many challenges were identified by respondents including lack of financial return from creative practice (73%), lack of time to do creative work due to other pressures and responsibilities (56%), and lack of access to funding or financial support (52%).
  • The greatest needs were financial assistance (66%), recognition by the wider music industry (63%), and more networking opportunities (60%).

The Australia Council recognises the need to invest in and develop this sector to ensure opportunities for First Nations music artists continue to grow. The following opportunities are open now for First Nations musicians and artists:

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Image: William White on Unsplash