The Kimberley Festival of Performing Arts 10-20 May 2018

Written on the 26 March 2018

Perform Act Dance WA (PADWA) connects industry professionals/celebrities in the areas of acting, singing , dancing and music to students across Australia.   They have taken a number of workshops to capital cities where there is an obvious abundance of opportunities for young people. However, in doing so were drawn by requests to some regional centres such as Geraldton, Busselton, Bunbury, Broome and Kununurra, where these opportunities are not readily available to the more isolated population.  Director Beej Francis has also recently completed her Bachelor of Arts, Major Psychology with an Addiction Studies Minor and is particularly aware of the importance of positive mental health.   She believe's performing arts programs help promote self-esteem and hope through performance and expression.  She wants to reach remote regional areas and inspire disadvantaged and disengaged children to aspire to become whatever they want to be. To give hope to those who have lost it and to empower them to strive for a better life.

Specifically PADWA and a cast of popular Australian Performing Artists are coming to Broome and Kununurra for the 2nd year running between the 10th and 21st of May 2018.  The basis for doing so is the fact that the Kimberley region has one of the highest incidences of suicide in Australia with young indigenous people, alarming rates of addiction and domestic violence. PADWA with your help, want to be an integral part in developing programs which give all kids hope and a future to look forward to.   They have started plans to film the event and highlight the effect these workshops have on young people and contrast it to the desperate plight of many Kimberley indigenous kids. 

"Rates of Indigenous suicide in the Kimberley region over the last ten years were seven times the national average'" source medical journal of Australia.  

From The Conversation "Our data confirms the most at risk group are Indigenous youth, and as if this was not worrying enough, now children are also at risk. We know world-wide those transitioning into adulthood appear at increased risk. In our study we found 68% of those who suicided were under 30 years old, and 27% were under 20. And although originally predominately affecting males, female Indigenous youth suicide and suicidality are now increasing".

"We have to find a new way, led by true cultural respect and partnership, evidence, and long-term commitments to empower and instil hope into each Indigenous generation as it emerges, if we are to gradually turn the tide"

And from a report from the ABC News "A "radical approach" to tackle Indigenous suicide may be needed after 13 young people killed themselves within three and a half years in WA's north, an inquest has been told.

Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre chair Merle Carter was not as optimistic.

She said the region was grappling with alcohol abuse, poor housing and hopelessness, which contributed to the high suicide rate.

So how can we help relieve hopelessness? This cannot be addressed easily nor without proper research, however through this festival PADWA are giving scholarships to attend for a select number of students who are from low socioeconomic backgrounds/communities. The aim is to give them the same opportunities as other students and to provide hope and encouragement through the arts.

The Artists participating this year include:

Rachael Beck:  Musical Theatre appeared in Cats, Beauty and The Beast, Singing in the Rain, Hey Dad, Home and Away, This Girl Album and show, currently still touring with other shows and famous Australian Artists including Rhonda Burchmore, Michael Cormick to name a few.  She is also the Director of your school musical which produces Musical Theatre for schools around Australia. She has conducted a number of workshops with kids at risk through her programs

Myles Pollard: Has a Bachelor of Arts in Education (Secondary) from ECU and A Bachelor of Dramatic Art in Acting from NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art).  He has appeared in many Australian television series including, Wild side, All Saints, Water Rats, East West 101, Home and Away, McLeod's Daughters, Packed to the Rafters, Underbelly, Rescue Special Ops and The War that changed us.  His feature film credits include Wolverine, Thirst, Drift (which he produced) The turning, Looking for Grace, Jasper Jones and The Gateway.  Myles has worked as an actor with respected Australian theatre companies including Ensemble, Black Swan and Bell Shakespeare a company he also teaches for Australian wide.  Myles directs short films annually for the Creative Arts Initiative, a Murdoch University program that educates and up skills tomorrows film makers and has just finished shooting a short film, Paynes find, which he co-wrote produced and also directed.  Myles is keen to film and conduct interviews with assistance of his cameraman behind the scenes to this event. His camera man is Michael Fletcher and has done some amazing cinematography :

Rebecca Davies Radar Technique: Australian Dance teacher now teaching across the globe including USA, Canada, Russia, Europe NZ and Australia.  She has over 300k followers on Instagram.  Rebecca requires an assistant and guardian to travel with her for the purpose of her workshops.  Her workshops cater for all ability and ages and are strengthening and conditioning exercises for dance.

Yukino McHugh from  So You Think You Can Dance fame. Her main style is Hip Hop which the indigenous kids love. She also teaches other styles and has recently worked in Europe for Productions with Cirque du Soleil Choreographers. 

Padwa is currently in the process of trying to engage Indigenous Role Models in the form of Actors, Personalities and football players to be part of this project .

Padwa is looking for sponsors and supporters of this event which will culminate in a Showcase of the artists and student at the Broome Civic Centre on May 13th 2018.  There will be awards and prizes and an exhibition on offer.

If you are interested in supporting this event along with partners already on board such as Broome Civic Centre, Goolarri Media, Broome Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Matsos and Seashells Broome, you can contact Beej on 0421 977 148 or email

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