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Resurrecting the Deadlys

Tara Watson

The cancelled Deadly Awards celebrating Indigenous arts and culture has hopes of being revived with a new crowd-sourced campaign.
Resurrecting the Deadlys

Image: Kickstarter 

A joint petition and Kickstarter campaign is attempting to breathe life back into the Deadly Awards, an annual indigenous event that was cancelled this year as a result of budget cuts.

The Deadly Awards, a night of honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievements in entertainment, sport, the arts and the community, would have been celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Amid the aftermath of organisers Vibe Australia announcing the cancellation of the awards as well as the recent death of Deadly Awards founder and activist Gavin Jones, momentum is now gaining for the Deadly awards to go ahead for its last hurrah in 2014.

ADVERTISEMENT petition ‘Reinstate the Deadly Awards in memory of Founder Gavin Jones’ is already gaining traction in the community, with over 23,000 signatures already gained. The petition targets the budget cuts, appealing for various levels of government, such as Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion, to reinstate funding for the event.

An accompanying Kickstarter campaign ‘Fund a New Deadly Awards’ has also been mobilised to increase funding and put further pressure on the government to financially aid in the events survival in its 20th year in honour of Jones.

Kickstarter project and creator Arika Errington said she was compelled to raise funds and awareness for the cancelled Indigenous event as she has been to the Deadlys many times in her 30 years and was disheartened by the funding cuts.

‘We said how sad it would be if the Deadly’s weren’t on anymore because it recognizes so much in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture that would propel us [Indigenous people] into the news in a more positive way than what is normally the case I think’ said Errington. ‘My friends were just kind of like this isn't cool, we should do something to try and get it reinstated and that’s how I came up with the idea.’

The goal for the Kickstarter project is to reach $50,000 with less than 50 days to go. While holding the actual event would cost far more financially in execution, Errington said the figure was more symbolic, to prove to the political parties that the event has the support and commitment from the community and this will hopefully encourage funding to be reinstated.

The money received from the project will be offered to Vibe Australia to put into the awards or alternatively used to create a new event with crowd-sourced, community, government and corporate sponsorship. The Kickstarter project is not affiliated with Vibe Australia or the Jones' family and Vibe could not make comment to ArtsHub at this stage over the future of the awards and the potential for the awards to go ahead with the funding boost.

Errington said that the event means so much to not just Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people but non-indigenous Australians and with the death of its founder earlier this month, the event going ahead has even more significance. 

‘Even if it was just the last Deadlys Awards ever, it would be great to say thanks to this amazing person [Jones] who for the last 19 years spent all of this energy doing something great for this community. I think it would be a really good kind of send-off,' said Errington. 'It would give all of us the opportunity to say goodbye to the awards as it's been a part of so many people's lives for such a long time'.

About the author

Tara Watson is a Melbourne journalist & artsHub writer. Follow her on Twitter @TarasWatson