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Kim Scott. Picture: Lee Griffith/The West Australian

If any one person could epitomise the year in WA culture, it would have to be Kim Scott.

Named the inaugural Western Australian of the Year for 2012, the Noongar author and academic seemed to spend much of the past 18 months walking through a revolving door of major national awards nights since his novel That Deadman Dance won his second Miles Franklin Award in 2011 (he was the first Aboriginal author to win the prestigious prize with Benang in 2000).

In 2012, That Deadman Dance, about early 19th century Noongar-European encounters in the South West, also scooped the Christina Stead Prize, the NSW Premier's Book of the Year, the regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the ALS Gold Medal after winning the WA Premier's Prize the year before.

The Curtin University professor of writing said the growing mainstream success of indigenous films, theatre, art, music, television and literature "signals the potential of what we might yet be collectively" through the power of sharing stories.

On the screen, the landmark TV series Redfern Now and the feel-good film The Sapphires found wide acclaim, continuing the momentum of recent productions Bran Nue Dae, Mad Bastards and Samson and Delilah. On the stage, the first Aboriginal opera, Deborah Cheetham's Pecan Summer, had a short season at the State Theatre Centre, as did WA's first indigenous contemporary dance company, Ochre.

Scott advocates the "paradox of being empowered through controlled giving" so that Aboriginal people can reconnect with their language and culture, share that heritage and help the collective healing process.

The author has also helped revitalise traditional Aboriginal stories in the community through the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories initiative.

"WA's Aboriginal people can make a massive contribution, even more than they do at the moment, to our collective identity," he said. "It can give us something more than the 'boom, boom frontier' ethos. It makes all of us bigger."

The Noongar language was also being asserted on one of the world's most famous stages in 2012.

Perth's Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company achieved a world first by performing six of Shakespeare's sonnets in Noongar at the historic Globe theatre in London during the cultural festival for the Olympics. It was the first time Aboriginal actors using an Aboriginal language had performed on the historic Globe stage and the first time Shakespeare's work was translated into Noongar.

Yirra Yaakin also forged a three-year deal with the WA Museum to take up residency there to perform the sonnets and indigenous plays to give museum visitors a deeper appreciation of Aboriginal culture.

The indigenous perspective will be a major element in a new museum complex after the WA Museum got the news in the May State Budget that it finally could get started on its long-awaited redevelopment plans. The Perth Cultural Centre site is expected to double in size once the $428 million project is completed by 2019-20.

Another significant cultural heritage repository, the 12,000-strong Berndt Museum of Anthropology, also took a major step towards a new home after decades of sitting in a small basement under the Social Sciences building at the University of WA.

The Art Gallery of WA moved ahead in other ways in 2012 by hosting Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters, the first major exhibition of a three-year deal for New York's Museum of Modern Art to effectively maintain a revolving-door branch in Perth over the course of six exhibitions.

More than 100,000 people saw Picasso to Warhol before it closed early this month. The next MoMA exhibition, the Picturing New York collection of 120 years of photography, opens at the Art Gallery of WA on January 26.

A few weeks in February marked a perfect storm as the Perth International Arts Festival was surrounded by the unpredictable buzz of Perth's first fully fledged fringe festival in nearly 25 years. People crammed into PIAF events and Fringe World shows.

As PIAF notched up its 60th Festival, the WA Ballet crowned its own diamond jubilee with a remarkable premiere of the ballet Pinocchio, by outgoing artistic director Ivan Cavallari, and by moving into its world-class $12 million WA Ballet Centre in Maylands.

In London, former Perth boy Tim Minchin was enjoying the acclaim of his West End musical, Matilda, which won a record seven Olivier Awards and is getting ready to open in New York in March.

The year closed with the death of Robert Juniper, a titan of the WA art world whose creative DNA lives on in major artworks around the world and in the work of the many artists he has influenced as teacher, exemplar and collaborator.