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This is Garrmalang

What started as a passion project for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander local, and 2021’s Garrmalang Festival Co-Creative Director, Ben Graetz has blossomed into an exciting, culture-rich event on the annual Top End calendar.

Darwin's first ever Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander multi-arts major festival was created in 2014 to showcase, inspire and celebrate First Nations arts and culture. For the traditional custodians, the Larrakia People, Garrmalang is the name for what is now known as Darwin’s CBD.

Although planning for this year’s festival only kicked off mid-February, content for the program came in thick and fast, with a bounty to choose from. And despite current limitations, Graetz has great hopes the festival will grow in the future.

“There is an overwhelming amount of incredible art and artists, people and work and music that could be included in the festival, particularly from the other parts of the Darwin region, such as Tiwi, but for now we just need to focus on a festival that is viable,” he says.

“I think that’s what the exciting part is – in who we can engage and who we can work with – the possibilities are endless.”

Graetz is joined at the helm by Co-Director Nina Fitzgerald, whose mother Ursula Raymond was involved with getting the very first festival off the ground. She says there’s something very special about what the festival represents.

“We work really hard to make sure that we’re honouring the Larrakia people as the traditional custodians of the land on which the festival is held – I think that’s a nice uniqueness that comes through the festival – the way we work and who we’re trying to represent,” Fitzgerald says.

“In honouring Larrakia, we’re also looking at First Nations culture right across the Territory – it’s so diverse! Even within our state there’s so much diversity and vibrance, so it’s really lovely to have that thread running through it and tying it back to the land that we’re on.”

Graetz tends to agree.

“Darwin has always had such a melting pot of different mobs here, so that’s what makes it especially exciting.”

Held over two days in various activated sites across Darwin Entertainment Centre, the Garrmalang program is jam-packed with art, music, dancing, fashion, food and culture. The Garrmalang Blak Talk panel series tackles important issues affecting our First Nations community.

Of course, it would be remiss of us not to mention that multi award-winning Electric Fields are coming to party… A repeat offender in enticing Top Enders to hit the dancefloor every time they visit, this talented electronic duo features the vocal splendour of Zaachariaha Fielding, who often sings in his traditional languages of the Anangu people, paired with the genius of producer Michael Ross.

Embrace the opportunity to immerse yourself in this incredible weekend of arts and culture, led by First Nations people, for First Nations people. There really is something for everyone, and everyone is more than welcome.

Garrmalang Festival

Photo: Thumbnail & Header – NT Dance Company dancers perform at Garrmalung Festival

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