Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: ILBIJERRI Theatre Company

ProjectILBIJERRI Youth Ensemble

Amount$90,000 over three years


ProgramPast Programs | Arts and Culture

Reducing inequality Enabling opportunities for Indigenous young people to participate in the performing arts as performers and creators and pursue training and careers in the industry
Building organisational capacity Increasing the capacity of ILBIJERRI to provide opportunities for young people from our own community
Collaboration and partnership Partnering with Arts Centre Melbourne to provide an ongoing home for the ILBIJERRI Youth Ensemble

The first time that an Indigenous-led organisation has been a resident company at a major performing arts venue in Australia

In the first partnership of its kind in Australia, ILBIJERRI has teamed up with the Arts Centre Melbourne to provide an entry-level program providing hands-on practical theatre experience and skills development for Indigenous youth. Through the program ILBIJERRI will contribute to the sustainability of the sector, and the company itself, by fostering the next generation of Indigenous theatre makers and performers.

Image ILBIJERRI Youth Ensemble. Photo: Darren Gill

The ILBIJERRI Youth Ensemble is an annual program of participatory theatre workshops open to Indigenous young people aged 15-28 years in metropolitan Melbourne. It aims to foster the next generation of Indigenous theatre artists.


  • The partnership with Arts Centre Melbourne will support ILBIJERRI Youth Ensemble with ongoing access to the Arts Centre’s studios and spaces to deliver workshops, rehearsals and ongoing youth participation opportunities.
  • Workshops will culminate in a professional staged showcase performance at the Arts Centre Melbourne.
  • Throughout the year, ILBIJERRI will facilitate opportunities for participants to attend a range of performances as audiences, exposing them to different theatre genres and styles.
  • Arts Centre Melbourne will provide marketing, documentation and general support to facilitate Indigenous young people to access the venue and the Youth Ensemble program.
  • Indigenous Australians are under-represented in the performing arts sector. Recent Australia Council research found that only 2% of performances in Australia include any Indigenous content and there is a complete lack of Indigenous creatives in many parts of the industry. This program works towards addressing this issue.


Uploaded 29 August 2018

"As Australia's largest and busiest performing arts centre, we are pleased to have formed a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with ILBIJERRI over many years." Angharad Wynne-Jones, Head of Participation, Arts Centre Melbourne.