The Brag Media
News August 20, 2020

Music associations focus on First Nations issues with key hires

Music associations focus on First Nations issues with key hires
Kerry Kennell, Cerisa Grant, Letisha Akland

Three music associations have swung a spotlight on First Nations music issues with new appointments.

This week Music Victoria added lawyer, business owner and artist manager Kerry Kennell to its board of directors.

Kennell, a proud Torres Strait Islander woman from the eastern islands Ugar and Erub, brings legal, business, strategic, management, industry and government experience to the board.

She manages singer, guitarist and actor Lewis Ciavarella and the band Key Hoo, which won the Archie Roach Award at the 2019 Music Victoria Awards.

“As a Torres Strait Island woman, I am passionate about long term equality and empowering First Nations people to have their voices heard and respected in a positive and meaningful way,” Kennell said.

Music Victoria chair Sally Howland said the Kennell will be “a true asset” to the board, and help it deliver its new Equity Action Plan.

This week Music Victoria and Songlines Music Aboriginal Corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to work closely and partner on regular events.

With the rise in the number of First Nations artists, crew and music workers accessing Support Act’s crisis relief and mental health & wellbeing services, Support Act has created the new role of First Nations community engagement / social worker to encourage more to come forward.

The 12-month position has been filled by Cerisa Grant, a proud Walpiri, Jawoyn and Gurrindji woman from Katherine who resides in Melbourne. 

She is an artist manager, events manager and liaison / case support worker who has worked with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, Barpirdhila Foundation and Territory Families.

 “I am also very proud of my culture and look forward to being able to create a safe space for First Nations music workers so that they can access Support Act’s wonderful support services should they need to,” she said.

“Providing services to First Nations music workers in a culturally appropriate and safe environment has long been a priority for Support Act,” CEO Clive Miller said. 

“Having Leah Flanagan and Alethea Beeston on our board gives us the strategic focus, and with the appointment of Cerisa Grant, we believe we have found the perfect candidate to help us increase our engagement at the operational level.”

Letisha Ackland’s appointment at Music SA was announced in June, for a newly-created role of Indigenous industry development coordinator to help First Nations artists with professional development, supporting them get gigs, record and secure grants.

The proud Gugada (Kokatha), Wirangu and Mirning woman from Ceduna in the Far West Coast of South Australia started out in the music industry freelancing for the Adelaide Fringe, Laneway and Groovin The Moo festivals.

Noting “I haven’t seen too much of First Nations people on stage locally, especially at major events,” in 2019 she set up her own management, mentoring and production company Balya Productions.

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