Three creative heroes were celebrated in Perth last night at the national Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards at the State Theatre Centre.
WA-trained actor and composer Eddie Perfect won the individual award of $50,000, Adelaide children's theatre company Windmill Theatre won the $80,000 group award and Darwin's Skinnyfish Music won $20,000 for its promotion of such indigenous artists as ARIA winner Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu and East Timorese troubadour Ego Lemos.
Lemos is a hero in his homeland in more ways than one. Born in the dying days of Portuguese colonial rule in 1972, he lost his three siblings, father and grandfather to war and starvation and was nearly killed himself during the independence struggles of the late 1990s.
In demand around the world as an authority on rural reconstruction, he carries his guitar as an instrument to help sell his message of sustainability.
The awards were set up in 1984 to enhance the status of the performing arts in Australia, Sidney Myer Fund chairman Carrillo Gantner said.