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CIAF 2023

CIAF wins Queensland Reconciliation Award

02 Jun 2023

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The role of creative partnerships in promoting greater cultural understanding, opportunities for artists and a pathway to reconciliation has been verified with Queensland Theatre and Cairns Indigenous Art Fair winning the coveted Partnership category of the 2023 Queensland Reconciliation Awards.

CIAF 2023

In jointly presenting the world premiere of the acclaimed theatre production, Othello, Queensland Theatre and CIAF have exemplified the intrinsic value of strategic partnerships that in effect, has led to an increased knowledge of Torres Strait Islander language, song, and dance while showcasing the outstanding talent of Torres Strait Islander artists.

Representatives from both Queensland Theatre and CIAF attended Tuesday night’s award ceremony and were thrilled to win the coveted Partnership category.

CIAF’s General Manager Darrell Harris said strategic partnerships with major institutions and corporations expand the scope of possibility, can harness many synergies and are a key focus of the organisation’s future growth strategy.

“Founded on the true spirit and principles of reconciliation, CIAF’s partnership with Queensland Theatre is the perfect example of how an inspired collaboration can achieve outstanding results,” Mr Harris said.

The Torres Strait Island adaptation of Queensland Theatre’s Othello premiered at Bulmba-ja in November 2021 in partnership with CIAF and was followed by a successful season at the Bille Brown Theatre as part of Brisbane Festival.  The show was seen by more than 8000 people and received widespread publicity and critical acclaim.

Announced by Queensland’s Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk at a ceremony in Brisbane on Tuesday 30 May during National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June), the honour roll recognised several inspiring initiatives across Business, Community, Health and Education, Health, and Wellbeing categories.

This partnership was assisted by the Australian Government through the Indigenous Languages and Arts Program, with community engagement supported by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.

Adapted by Jimi Bani and Jason Klarwein, Othello presented a fusion of two powerful cultures – Shakespeare and Wagadagam.  Set between Cairns and the Torres Strait, this tri-lingual production (Kala Lagaw Ya, Yumpla Tok and English)  illuminated the vital role of the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion during World War II when more than 800 Torres Strait Islander men volunteered to protect the northern tip of Australia.

For co-creator and lead actor Jimi Bani (My Name is Jimi, Our Town), staging Othello as part of CIAF 2021 was a chance to share the stories of his family, and fulfilled a long-held career aspiration. 

According to Bani, Othello was the role he had been wanting to play since studying and graduating from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2007.

“It’s fitting that we set this version in wartime 1942 in the Torres Strait. My grandfather, the late Solomon Gela and my great grandfather, the late Ephraim Bani Snr both enlisted — as did all able-bodied Torres Strait Islander men.  I grew up on Thursday Island and had the privilege of hearing their war stories, and I continue to carry all these men and women in my heart,” Mr Bani said.