From Old Things to New Beginnings

Over two days in early November, and with an itinerary based around the launch and world premiere of Circa Cairns’ From Old Things, TFFF Trustees, Advisors and staff visited Cairns to meet with several current grant recipients and learn a little more about the for-purpose ecology in the region.

The trip started with a morning visit to the Department of Education, before heading to Bulmba-ja Arts Centre to meet JUTE Theatre Company’s Chair Gillian Townsend, Artistic Director and CEO Suellen Maunder, and the whole office staff. The TFFF has been supporting JUTE’s Dare to Dream touring program since its pilot in 2016, and it was a welcome opportunity to reflect on the growth and success of the program over the past seven years.

After lunch, we ventured up to Kuranda to Youth Link’s drop-in centre which runs the TFFF-funded ‘Youth Cre8’ program. With operations impacted by COVID earlier in the year, it was wonderful to see the centre alive with young people and activity again — after even a quick visit it was apparent that Youth Link continues to play an important role in the remote community.

The Circa Cairns ensemble’s opening performance of ‘From Old Things’ at Bulmba-ja Art Centre. Photo by Veronica Sagredo.

In August this year, TFFF was proud to approve three-year pilot funding for Queensland’s world-renowned Circa Contemporary Circus, to launch a First Nations-led regional imprint of the company called Circa Cairns. The evening of 2 November 2022 marked the official in-person launch of Circa Cairns and the world premiere of its inaugural production From Old Things, the invention of Creative Lead Harley Mann (Wakka Wakka) and Circa Cairns ensemble artists Ally Humphris, Crystal Stacey and Margot Mansfield. TFFF was touched to be acknowledged as part of the Welcome to Country and extends our thanks the Traditional Custodians of Gimuy (Cairns) and Circa Cairns for their hospitality.

Day two began with a drive along the coastline to Wangetti Beach, where Cape York Girl Academy is located. A previous grant recipient of Ningana Trust, the Academy is Australia’s first boarding high school designed for young Indigenous mothers and their babies to live and learn together. It is an initiative of Cape York Partnership, which has 10 entities working on the ground in the Cape and Cairns to empower First Nations families and communities to break the cycle of disadvantage. Over tea and coffee served by students completing hospitality training, CEO Fiona Jose explained the Partnership’s strategy to create an ecosystem that ensures Indigenous young people have a life of opportunity to look forward to.

TFFF Trustees, Advisors and staff, with the young women of Cape York Girl Academy and staff from Cape York Partnerships. Photo courtesy of Cape York Partnerships.

TFFF’s last meeting was with Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth-led not-for-profit with a mission to inspire, equip and empower young people to take action and change the world.

As our final instra-state visit for 2022, it was a pleasure to spend time in the tropics, reconnect with organisations that we share a rich history with, and make some new and inspiring connections.