News July 13, 2018

Take 5 with the brains behind BIGSOUND: First Nations Producer, Alethea Beetson

Former Staff Writer
Take 5 with the brains behind BIGSOUND: First Nations Producer, Alethea Beetson

BIGSOUND is one of the biggest events on the Australian music industry calendar.

A jam-packed three days which sees industry and artists come together to hear some of the foremost community minds speak, network and discover the next big thing in Aussie music.

2018 promises to be the biggest year yet, with keynotes from the likes of Paul KellyVirginia Hanlon-Grohl, Erin Kelly-Burkett and stacks more. Not to mention the 100+ musical acts that will be bringing their A game to showcases right across Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

To prep for the massive conference, TMN is catching up with the people that make it all happen.

In celebration of NAIDOC week, we had a chat with First Nations Producer Alethea Beetson (Kabi Kabi + Wiradjuri).

The driving force behind Digi Youth Arts – a not-for-profit arts organisation that shares the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people – Alethea has also served as Indigenous Engagement Coordinator at the Queensland Museum and was the Curator of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program for Festival 2018 Brisbane.

With a resume a mile long and bursting at the seams with ideas, we caught up with Alethea to see what she’s got in store for .


What are your main goals for BIGSOUND in your new role as Indigenous Producer? What does your job involve?

Before I answer this question, I would like to acknowledge the work that First Nations people have done in and around BIGSOUND since its inception. I am always conscious that this role exists because of the steps others have taken before me.

My main goal is to listen to First Nations artists, industry professionals and community members who engage with or would like to engage with BIGSOUND. And, then to work with the BIGSOUND to make informed and on-going changes to the event to ensure this role achieves its goals to make the event more inclusive and culturally appropriate.


What initiatives has BIGSOUND 2018 included to make it a more inclusive event?

In the lead up to and at the event, I will be making myself available to support the First Nations artists, delegates and speakers. Hopefully, this will create a more inclusive experience as I can react in real time to the support they might need to navigate the conference and festival.

Change is continual, requires reflection and takes time, so their experience of the event will provide needed feedback for future years.

BIGSOUND 2018 will also open with a welcome event on Tuesday afternoon which will put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music front and centre of the event’s experience.


What are the biggest challenges unique to Indigenous artists breaking into the music scene, and what advice do you have for them?

The unique challenges First Nations artists face have very much been considered by BIGSOUND in this year’s event.

The forum ‘What would the current music industry look like if it was invented by our First Nations people?’ will provide an opportunity for those who experience these challenges first hand to lead the conversation and call the music industry to action.

I have a wonderful First Nations support network and I call upon them for advice when needed. They understand where I am coming from and help me navigate the predominately non-Indigenous spaces I work in. Finding this support is the best advice I have for anyone working in any of the arts industries.


What are your recommendations for events who wish to become more inclusive, while avoiding tokenism?  

First and foremost, understand that your event is happening on First Nations land, where sovereignty has never ceded.

From there, get to know your community as only they can guide you on how to avoid tokenism and make a more inclusive event. Be willing to put in the long-term investment to make effective, First Nations-led change.


Who are the Indigenous acts we need to keep an eye out for at this year’s BIGSOUND and why?

All of them! But I am really looking forward to The Merindas and Alice Skye!

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