Heard Instinct is a pilot initiative co-designed by Multicultural Arts Victoria and a group of 10 emerging young artists of colour living in the Goulburn Valley region on Yorta Yorta country. The project is being developed to address a need for more self-determined opportunities for young artists of colour, to come together and be able to freely express themselves through the arts. The project has been made possible with support from Ethnic Council Shepparton, Gandel Philanthropy, Australia Council for the Arts and Creative Victoria.
Heard Instinct follows on from the successful Ignite Sound Project music mentoring program, a partnership between Multicultural Arts Victoria and St. Paul’s African House. Over two years from 2017-2019, the Ignite Sound Project provided opportunities for young people from African backgrounds to connect socially and to learn about and engage with the creative process. The program highlighted the impressive skills and talents amongst the participants who have so much to share musically, lyrically and personally. Heard instinct Open Mic Night project is a natural progression, enabling these young African artists and peers from local Pacific and Aboriginal communities, to take their music to the next level and develop themselves as performers.
Since April 2019, Multicultural Arts Victoria has been facilitating regular weekly songwriting and recording workshops at African House in Shepparton which have attracted regular attendance of 10-15 young people every week. These workshops have provided a culturally safe space for young people to meet, develop their creative skills, write and record songs together and form new social connections.
More broadly the program has led to increased cultural development, performance opportunities and availability and accessibility of the arts for culturally diverse young people and has enabled talented young artists of colour to create a platform for themselves, to showcase their talents and contemporary music, and to develop as unified community of artists and peers.
Over the 7 months of the project, a core group of young people with creative career aspirations, have emerged to form the Heard Instinct Collective. The Collective includes 4 young women and 8 young men aged between 14 and 29 years, from newly arrived African communities, Pacific communities and Aboriginal communities including Lasi Simaika, Ree Peric, Madi Colville Walker, Naomi Manatua, Sam Manatua, Vincent Kitungano, Abel Connors, Nathan Martin Adams, Lawi Bisimwa, Jonathan Safari, Bradylones, Luke Buckworth and River Loizou.
The group received funding from Ethnic Council of Shepparton which enabled an intensive weekend of songwriting in August 2019 with four professional peer artists from Melbourne, Syrene Favero (Samoan/ Maori), Achol Agaar (South Sudanese), Baasto (Somali) and DJ Spell (Maori). Over two and half days of intensive workshops held at The Haven in Shepparton, the group wrote and recorded 5 new songs that reflect their individual and collective cultural and social identities and express their ideas and stories and issues close to their hearts. These 5 songs have created a repertoire for public performance and with support from Multicultural Arts Victoria the group have secured a number of high quality, paid performance opportunities in October – November 2019 including Emerge in Yarra Festival (Melbourne), St.Georges Rd Food Festival (Shepparton), United We Feast – Out in the Open Festival (Shepparton), Land of Plenty Festival (Shepparton), 3 Rivers Festival (Moama, NSW) and Pasi?ka Festival (Shepparton).
Multicultural Arts Victoria is continuing to work with the group to develop a multilayered program that encompasses creative and professional development opportunities including songwriting workshops, recording, performances, event management skills and connecting to the broader Victorian arts industry. This is a unique program providing a conduit for young artists of colour living regionally, to the broader Victorian arts and cultural scene including performances, other mentoring programs, funding opportunities, music industry workshops etc.