The Indigenous Creative Industries is the 2009 theme of the nationally significant Key Forum at this year’s Garma Festival of Traditional Culture, Australia’s leading Indigenous cultural exchange, to be held for the 11th time in August at Gulkula, near Nhulunbuy in north-east Arnhem Land.

The Key Forum “ coordinated by Charles Darwin University – will feature important discussions on issues such as cultural rights and integrity as well as commercial rights and opportunities in regard to the Creative Industries.

Aborigines are prominent in various creative Industries in Australia, says Mandawuy Yunupingu, founder and Deputy Chairman of the Yothu Yindi Foundation which organises Garma, particularly visual art, and dance and music. But there is huge potential for increased involvement and economic opportunities, while maintaining cultural rights and integrity.

Traditional knowledge systems and cultural practices, especially in dance, song, art and ceremony, and their practice, preservation and presentation are vital for Indigenous Australians’ cultural identity, explains Mandawuy Yunupingu, who adds that culture also feeds into social cohesion, community well-being and development .

Teasing out these issues this year will be a plethora of leading figures including Mandawuy Yunupingu (founder of both Yothu Yindi, the band and Garma) , festival directors Robyn Archer and Rhoda Roberts, politicians Peter Garrett and Jenny Macklin, artists Leah Purcell, Rosalie Kunoth Monk, Yananymul Mununggurr, Wali Wunungmurra, Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, Djambawa Marawili, Trevor Jamieson and rapper Wire Mc; plus Mark Bin Bakar and Lydia Miller from the Australia Council, museum director Dawn Casey, commentators Marcia Langton, Terri Janke and Jeremy Eccles, perennial presence Jack Thompson, and Australian of the Year Mick Dodson.

The 2009 Key Forum will cover the spectrum of the Creative Industries: the performing and visual arts; contemporary and traditional art; technology; cultural rights and protocols; social and economic development; Indigenous architecture and design; creativity across media, film and broadcasting sectors; the music, literary and graphics industries; and cultural engagement and partnerships involving the public, commercial and philanthropic sectors. The significance of Country, as well as health and well being is never absent from Garma, and this has a distinctive effect on the directions and outcomes of the Forum.

Garma will again feature a major Youth Forum; the extremely popular Cultural Tourism program – with Men’s and Women’s programs along traditional Yolngu lines; and many cultural performances (including the famous nightly bunggul), presentations and collaborations. Last year, about 2,800 people attended Garma, approximately half being non-Indigenous visitors from around Australia and other countries.

Garma is a Yolngu phrase meaning ˜both ways learning’ and as always its core elements will be the sharing of knowledge and culture “ fostering greater understanding among non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians. The Yothu Yindi Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable institution, and all revenues go to the infrastructure and delivery of its programs, including Garma, which have real, practical community, cultural and economic outcomes and benefits.

The annual Garma Festival of Traditional Culture will be held on August 7-11 this year, with the Key Forum occurring on August 8-10.

For further information on YYF, Garma and the Key Forum, and details on how to attend this extraordinary event, go to . Enquiries at