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Queensland shines when CIAF Celebrates -Two Cultures, One Event, Ten Extraordinary Years-

May 4, 2019 Destination Global No Comments

Traditional language, storytelling and intergenerational culture-sharing are powerful themes underpinning Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’s (CIAF) commemorative 10-year program officially launched this week.

Details of this year’s expanded event program, spanning five days between Wednesday 10 July and Sunday 14 July and incorporating more than 20 individual events and activities, were revealed to guests attending the launch at Crystalbrook Collection’s Resort, Riley last night before ticketed highlights* go on sale from 9am today.

 CIAF is Queensland’s quintessential celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture in one dynamic meeting place which each year draws approximately 50,000 people to participate in its program of visual art, music, dance, fashion, food, theatre and workshops.

Staying with tradition, CIAF’s 10th annual event will be staged within and surrounding the heritage-listed Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal on the city’s picturesque waterfront while a host of satellite events will be held at venues across the city including Cairns Art Gallery, Tanks Arts Centre, and the newly opened Cairns Performing Arts Centre.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch congratulated CIAF on its tenth anniversary year.

“Marking a decade of success is a wonderful milestone for CIAF,” Minister Enoch said.

“The Queensland Government supports CIAF with annual funding of $600,000 through the landmark Backing Indigenous Arts initiative, including project funding of $150,000 in 2019 for new production Cultural Heights.

Cultural Heights, featuring choirs from across Far North Queensland sharing their stories in traditional language and song, promises to be a major highlight this year in a vibrant showcase at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre,” Ms Enoch said.

“CIAF’s success is an outcome of the Queensland Government’s Backing Indigenous Arts initiative which for more than a decade has helped to build a sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art sector across the state.”

CIAF’s program begins on Wednesday 10 July with the CIAF 2019 Symposium – Qld Indigenous Art featuring a line-up of inspirational keynote speakers on Indigenous arts.

The following evening, Thursday 11 July, CIAF will host its official opening night party – a colourful spectacular beneath the stars where around 1500 guests will be treated to a first glimpse of the event’s centrepiece Art Fair along with a vibrant entertainment line-up.

On Friday 12 July the Art Fair opens to the general public for three days, offering a host of activities culminating in a youth music stage and closing ceremony on Sunday 14 July.  In between there will be exhibition openings, fashion performances, choral productions and more to keep the city moving to a cultural beat.

CIAF’s Artistic Director Janina Harding said the theme for this year’s anniversary program is My Yarn Now, which encompassing Queensland First Peoples’ lived experiences and life-shaping events, sits neatly alongside the United Nations’ 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages.

“CIAF really is an event like no other, in the way it brings people together from all over Australia and around the world”.

“You can hear directly from around 40 artists as they respond to their work during the many artist talks taking place within the Art Fair and you can create art in real time with some highly skilled weavers Rhonda Brim (Djabugay, Kuranda) and Bethel Baker (Erub, Torres Strait).

“For people, who would otherwise not have the opportunity to visit the regional and remote communities of Queensland’s First Peoples, CIAF is a wholly immersive cultural experience”.

“From art, music, dance and fashion to food, workshops and childrens activities, CIAF delivers a multi-dimensional program of mostly free activities that are based on the principles of authenticity while providing an ethical, fair trade marketplace for aspiring and established collectors, curators and the general public,” she said.

Ms Harding said the expansion of this year’s program with new events signifies the event’s coming of age in its 10th milestone year.

“For the first time, the CIAF Symposium will focus the spotlight on the distinguishing features that hallmark Queensland First Peoples’ art, by exploring its brief history and examining the cultural and contemporary influences that shape the creative expressions of today.”

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said CIAF was an important driver of visitation to Tropical North Queensland.

“More than 11,000 visitors came from outside of the Cairns region for the 2018 event, demonstrating the strong demand for authentic art and cultural events,” Ms Jones said.

“Celebrating its 10th event, the comprehensive program this year will showcase the region’s heritage and culture, while also boosting the local economy,” she said.

Headlining the highlights are CIAF’s Art Fair and Art Market, signature fashion performances Buwal-barra – messenger Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow and Thancoupie Tribute – A Legacy of Cultural Powerthe highly anticipated new choral performance, Cultural Heights featuring choirs sharing their stories in traditional language and another newcomer,Embrace, a series of projection art at CIAF event sites throughout the city.

Adding to the highlights is a free program of children’s storytelling, art and craft activities, artist talks and conversations plus a daily program of live music, dance and artists workshops.

In its mission to support professional development and boost artist recognition and practice CIAF established its annual Art Awards in 2017.  This year’s judging categories includeInnovation, Excellence, Emerging, Art Centre, 3-D and Sculpture and People’s Choice with a total prize purse of $50,000. The Premier’s Award for Excellence has been proudly supported by the Queensland Government since the Awards’ inception.

Cairns Art Gallery hosts feature exhibition, Queen’s Land – Blak Portraiture which explores the notion of identity – “who we are, how we see ourselves and how others see us” – which remains a source of deep fascination.

The lush Tanks Arts Centre stages CIAF’s annual fashion performances Buwal-barraand Thancoupie Tribute- A Legacy of Cultural Power exhibition and Blak Comedy Up Latefeaturing some of Queensland’s funniest Indigenous stand-ups.

*Ticketed highlight events (Art  Symposium, Opening Night Party, Buwal-barra, Blak Comedy Up Late and Cultural Heights) are on sale tomorrow, 3 May 2018.

Media note:

To register for CIAF 2019 Visiting Journalists Program, contact Pip Miller PR on

The following imagery is available to feature and use; Please credit Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

 CIAF 2018 Imagery   & 2019 Theme My Yarn Now Imagery

We wish to advise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers that this document may contain images and voices of people who are deceased.

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