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YANAYA Performance in Black Gully Festival Line-up

A compelling news, arts, community, social commentary, story about how one man’s journey in search of self and a local community arts organisation committed to social justice joined up to create a compelling new Australian work using melody as a direction-finding tool.
First Nation artist and performer and Director of beyond empathy David Leha has been developing a new Australian work called YANAYA over the past two years in partnership with community arts organisation beyond empathy. Leha’s own personal journey to learn more about his practice as a community artist, his family and a passionate quest to re discover his Gomeroi language became motivation and the moral compass he needed to develop the idea for YANAYA.
“It’s been an honour for me to be heading this show with our people. I’ve noticed vast improvements in everyone as artists as we all worked together to strengthen and connect to Language and culture through music and story” said Leha of the experience in devising and directing YANAYA.
Leha with credits to his name such as The Rabbits (Opera Australia) and I am Eora (2012 Sydney Festival), has created YANAYA through a unique collaboration with 14 First Nation musicians & singers. The artists from Tamworth, Armidale and Moree are creating 11 new songs in Gomeroi, Unniwan and English. Established to revitalise language, YANAYA explores language exchange through music and song. Working with the artist’s families, YANAYA activates memory, allowing the tradition of songlines to resurface. The YANAYA songs feature stories across generations and genres, including hip hop, soul, country music and pop. As each artist embodies their song, so too, they embody their language.
“Songlines can’t exist without people to sing them and the songs feature stories across generations and genres, including hip hop, soul, country music and pop. YANAYA respects two way, cultural learning. The relationship between Leha and the artists instantly thrives in the neutral space created through music and their story telling tools. The neutral space is negotiated in a way in which neither presumes authority or dominance and everyone involved in the ensemble are learning from each other. David has a very special relationship with these emerging and local artists – it’s a rare and really beautiful experience to witness”, beyond empathy’s executive director, Kim McConville said of Leha’s practice.
During 2017, beyond empathy has partnered up with New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) to bring YANAYA and the cultural experience of teaching and learning to the Armidale community. Through a series of community workshops offered at the New England Regional Art Museum, Leha and his emerging artists have shared language and music through song writing workshops to children and young people in the Armidale community. The partnership between New England Regional Art Museum and beyond empathy is a great example of how two regional arts companies combined skills and partnered up to delivered culturally inspired, innovative and creative opportunities to a regional community – and we all benefit.
“These workshops with David have been a fantastic opportunity for talented young members of the local community to work closely with a significant artist to create new songs that reflect local language and culture,” said Robert Heather, Director of the New England Regional Art Museum. “Our ongoing partnership with beyond empathy helps us to develop new works in association with community members and introduce them and their work to the art museum audience.”
The Armidale School (TAS) have also come on board offering their world class performance venue, The Hoskins Centre, as a rehearsal space during the week ahead of the YANAYA Ensemble world premiere at the Black Gully Music Festival on Saturday in Armidale.
“It is a great privilege to be able to host such a ground breaking cultural community event at the Hoskins Centre. The promotion of language was the focus of our NAIDOC week recognition this year and having the aspirations to see real position action in this space realised is quite inspiring. YANAYA holds the promise of drawing community together in an enriching experience that does justice to the ambitions of the Hoskins Centre to be a true community resource” said Murray Guest, Principal, The Armidale School.
The YANAYA artists will be presenting their performance at 6.00pm on Saturday 11 November 2017 on the main stage the 2017 Black Gully Festival, an annual event held on the grounds of the New England Regional Art Museum celebrating local arts, music and environment.
beyond empathy is a company that exists to transform the lives of disadvantaged people in NSW. BE does this by using the arts as a tool to build new pathways into improved health, education, employment and social inclusion. In contrast to traditional means of service delivery, the Arts creates a neutral and safe space where people can re-engage with their community, heal and grow. 90% of the people Beyond Empathy works with are Aboriginal and 76% of BEs core team are made up of Aboriginal artists and cultural workers.
New England Regional Art Museum is the premier cultural and tourism facility in the New England area and works across the region to develop and present a range of artistic and cultural experiences for its visitors and community.
Further information on Black Gully Music Festival visit the Facebook event.