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National Indigenous Music awards returns to Darwin

Baker Boy accepting an award in 2019 (Cr: David Hancock)

This year will see the return of the National Indigenous Music Awards, Australia’s biggest First Nations gala music gathering, at their traditional home, the Darwin Amphitheatre on August 7.

The night will once again be broadcast via NITV and online platforms and incorporate contributions from across the country, building on last year’s record-breaking audience and bringing the the night to the living rooms and phones of all Australians. With previous performers including Jessica Mauboy, Baker Boy, Archie Roach, Gurrumul and Thelma Plum, the National Indigenous Music Awards provides the opportunity for the community to gather, celebrate the success of First Nations artists, discover new talent and create a unique outdoor event under the stars on Larrakia land. This year’s event welcomes a new First Nations led team with last year’s Creative Director Ben Graetz returning along with new Associate Creative Director Nina Fitzgerald and NIMAs veteran Romana Paulson stepping into the Project Manager role. Ben Graetz is a descendant of the Iwaidja and Malak Malak clans in the Northern Territory and of Badu Island in the Torres Strait. He has worked in the performing arts sector for close to twenty-four years, establishing himself as a dynamic and influential artist, performer, director, producer, writer, MC and artistic director. Nina Fitzgerald is a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman who has recently returned home to Darwin after eight years studying and working in Melbourne. With a strong commitment to Indigenous advancement and the continued elevation of Indigenous Arts and Culture in the broader Australian narrative, her career includes Creative Direction, writing and research, with particular focus on the growing Indigenous fashion and textiles space. Romana Paulson is a proud Bundjalung, Mununjali & Wiradjuri woman from Yugembah Country Australia and is also ni-Vanuatu peoples from Vanuatu Islands in the South Pacific Ocean Nation. She has worked on the event for the last four years as part of the Agentur team. This year stepping up as Project Manager, Romana brings a wealth of both cultural and event experience to guide the team as the event grows.

“2020 was a year like no other and morphing what has always been an amazing night of connection and togetherness into a completely virtual event was a challenging but rewarding experience,” said Creative Director Ben Graetz. “This year however, we can return bigger and better than ever, creating a stunning physical event once more and using the learnings of last year’s record-breaking virtual audience to retain the best elements of both worlds. 2021 will bring the event to Australia across many platforms, led by our long-time partners NITV, while creating a special night of connection under the stars here on Larrakia Country.”

Last year’s virtual NIMAs was the biggest in the event’s history, reaching over 250,000 people with broadcasts across NITV, Double J, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Featuring live performances captured across Australia including Archie Roach, Miiesha, Thelma Plum, Mambali, JK-47 and more, the event also crossed live to communities as far as Yirrkala and Broome, with an amazing buzz lighting up social media and providing togetherness in a year that needed it most. Head of Indigenous Content at SBS, Tanya Denning-Orman, said: “It’s a pleasure to welcome the NIMAs back to our screens in 2021. After a challenging 2020, we’re looking forward to bringing Australia a great show that highlights the incredible talents of our First Nations music community.”

Northern Territory Minister for Major Events Natasha Fyles said: “The National Indigenous Music Awards is proudly held in Darwin and presents an excellent opportunity to showcase fabulous Indigenous talent in the Territory and across Australia. The Territory Labor Government is proud to support this event which is renowned for promoting and celebrating Indigenous musicians from the Territory.”

Nominations are open for the public to nominate Indigenous releases and artists across seven categories from artist and album of the year, through to Indigenous language and community clip of the year.

To nominate yourself or your favourite artist, visit Nominations close on May 28.


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