Pilbara dances to new beat
Pilbara dances to new beat

A samba band designed to drum up more community spirit in Karratha has done more than get people dancing in the street at a few local festivals and town events.

The push to develop the community arts program in the Pilbara, a partnership between Chinese-owned CITIC Pacific Mining and WA multicultural arts group Kulcha, has taken out a major prize at the national AbaF Awards in Melbourne.

On top of its growing ethnic diversity, a major challenge for the Pilbara is the transient FIFO population and short-term contracts which can create barriers to building a strong sense of community.

Kulcha general manager Jon Cope said the new Pilbara Samba Band was formed after talks with multicultural families in Karratha who wanted to create a big community arts activity that would bring together the many African, European, Middle Eastern, Asian and South American cultures.

As part of a three-year partnership deal worth $300,000, CITIC Pacific Mining helped Kulcha import samba drums from Brazil and set up a series of workshops before the 30-member band was launched at Karratha's FeNaClNG Festival last year. CITIC also sponsors Kulcha's annual Oz Concert, which attracted 6000 people to the Government House gardens last March.

"We want to be at this level doing good community work to celebrate cultural diversity in WA so working with a Chinese mining company is a really good fit," Mr Cope said.

"Winning awards is not why you do it but it helps gather attention from other corporates, philanthropists and government. It gives you credibility and people like to be attached to success."

A more established WA arts- business partnership, a 15-year association between WA Opera and Wesfarmers, took out one of the other AbaF Awards last night for its young artists program. The scheme has developed the voices of opera stars such as Roberto Abate, Rachelle Durkin, Paul O'Neill and Emma Matthews.

Philanthropist and collector Patrick Corrigan, media boss and Sydney Opera House chairman Kim Williams and former National Gallery of Victoria director Gerard Vaughan received arts leadership awards.

The awards are run by the Australia Business Arts Foundation, which will merge with Artsupport Australia to form an as-yet unnamed agency to be headed by former Melbourne Festival president Carol Schwartz.

Winning awards is not why you do it . . . but it gives you credibility." Jon Cope

The West Australian

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