Reception in Support of Queensland’s Arts and Cultural Community
Distinguished guests – and there are so many of you with us tonight. Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you all here to Fernberg – including representatives of many organisations of which I am very proud to be Patron – we join to celebrate the contribution the arts and cultural communities make to the life of our State, our people. This is especially poignant today, as Kaye and I learnt of the passing of Patrick Thomas. Mr Thomas was a doyen of the artistic firmament, partly through his becoming the first hometown Chief Conductor of any Australian symphony orchestra following his return to our QSO in 1973. Another very proud Queensland achievement! I know you will join Kaye and me in expressing condolences to his family and friends, and gratitude for his immensely uplifting contributions to Queensland over so many decades.
I now acknowledge our Indigenous fellow Queenslanders, who have contributed so much to our rich culture.
In doing so I acknowledge especially the traditional custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, and express respect for them, and their Elders. You may be interested to hear that last night Kaye and I hosted, as overnight guests, Mayors and representatives of the Cooktown, Hope Vale, Lockhart River and Aurukun communities, which we were privileged to visit in mid-June: and you may have noticed the Aurukun dogs in the Foyer!
My three years as Governor have given both Kaye and me a unique opportunity to discover the immense scope and importance of the arts here in Queensland.
As we’ve travelled the length and breadth of the State, we’ve met countless people who are making a difference to their communities through the arts and other cultural activities – I mention, of our recent experiences, the Cairns Indigenous Art Festival in Cairns in mid-July, and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville last weekend – and these were interspersed with the State Schools’ musical extravaganza ‘Creative Generation’ at the Convention Centre on 15th July.
Whether these Queenslanders are working alone or as part of a group; whether they’re professionals or people who simply want to work creatively with others and contribute to their community, the result is the same – a stronger, more thoughtful and cohesive society.
Kaye and I experience, almost daily, the power of this creative impulse in our communities, and two other very recent experiences made a particularly strong impact on us.
First, during NAIDOC Week last month, we celebrated the history and culture of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at a reception here at Government House. What made that evening remarkable was a performance by seven Indigenous women, The Verandah Chix.
Those proud women stood on the grand cedar staircase in the foyer and sang John Farnham’s You’re the Voice – in Indigenous languages. It was a powerful and historic moment.
The second experience was just a week earlier. Following an investiture ceremony for the Order of St John, a young St John Cadet from Ferny Hills, Tobi Clark, treated us to an impromptu piano recital.
In itself, this may not seem remarkable, but Tobi, just last year, performed and received Honourable Mention in The American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition at Carnegie Hall – in the five to ten year age group!
Like the performance by The Verandah Chix, Tobi’s recital was further evidence, if we needed it, of the strength and central importance of the arts and culture.
We need the arts. They can challenge and confront us; they can bring us solace, or sheer pleasure and joy. Thank you all for enriching our lives through the marvellous work that you do.