Gunnedah chosen for opera project

Deborah Cheetham (right) with local children in Gunnedah for Short Black Opera earlier this year.
Deborah Cheetham (right) with local children in Gunnedah for Short Black Opera earlier this year.

Gunnedah is one of two locations selected for the roll-out of a new project by the Short Black Opera Company.

Federal Member for New England Barnaby Joyce has congratulated the group on its successful application for a grant of $70,000 for the project which will also be launched in Shepparton, Victoria .

 Mr Joyce said the funds would be provided to the Short Black Opera for a proposed project that would strengthen and re-establish the ancient songlines between communities the length and breadth of Australia .

“It will also equip Indigenous children with the confidence and skills to create their own songs using ancestral language,” Mr Joyce said.

“The Short Black Opera project will provide important support for Indigenous languages and art in the Gunnedah community.

 “Art is essential to any culture, creating a sense of cultural identity and pride and these projects play an important role in helping to sustain and strengthen our Indigenous communities.”

Mr Joyce said the funding was designed to increase audience engagement with a wide range of Indigenous art forms, contribute to a strong sense of cultural identity and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and support new forms of Indigenous cultural expression through art.

 Short Black Opera’s Toni Lalich described the news of the grant as “fantastic” and said the project would link Gunnedah’s Indigenous language, Gamilaroi, with the Yorta Yorta heritage from the Shepparton district.

She said the not-for-profit Short Black Opera’s artistic director was Deborah Cheetham who is of  Yorta Yorta heritage.

The Short Black Opera announcement is part of more than $3 million for 59 projects that help keep Indigenous languages alive and showcase Australia’s traditional and contemporary Indigenous cultural and artistic expressions. 

The Sort Black Opera Company is no stranger to Gunnedah, with tours in recent years enriching local Aboriginal language and culture.

Short Black Opera continues to produce high quality performance outcomes for Indigenous adults and children, building on successful seasons of Deborah Cheetham’s opera Pecan Summer.

As a result of SBO’s training programs artists are gaining entry to Australia’s peak Arts Colleges, Conservatoriums and Universities with a 100 per cent completion rate to date. 

SBO programs begin with Short Black Opera for Kids primary school program and extending through Dhungala Choral Connection (10 - 17 years) and creating sustainable pathways into the adult company. 

• More information about the Indigenous Languages and Arts program can be found at:


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