Our sector development work

ILBIJERRI works to reclaim First Nations ways of working within the Australian arts sector, through programs and projects grounded in deep listening with and for Community and Country. ILBIJERRI is committed to a leadership role around best practice in cultural consciousness of First Peoples and ways of being.

ILBIJERRI is committed to strengthening protocols and best practices for working with and for Community and First Peoples storytellers, artists and arts workers.  

ILBIJERRI contributes to important work for the future of the First Nations performing arts ecology, at home and overseas. Our purpose is to create a platform that supports our artists but also finds and builds opportunities for the development of new voices and practices for the next generation of First Nations creatives, technicians, producers and administrators.

We are committed to working strategically across the First Nations arts sector and more broadly to target and create opportunities for sustainable leadership and self-determination. The regeneration and stability of the sector, invested with the First Nations principles of deep listening and respect, are key to our mission as a leading organisation in this space.

National performing arts partnership framework (NPAPF)

In response to public consultation, a new National Performing Arts Partnership Framework (NPAPF) was launched in 2021 with eight new organisations­ – including ILBIJERRI – joining the program previously known as the Major Performing Arts (MPA) Framework. These companies must meet a range of criteria, including the demonstration of the highest artistic standards, a sizable audience base and having a minimum average income of more than $1.6 million over the previous three-year period.

We were delighted to be invited to join this auspicious group understanding this recognition and support will assist us in further developing, sharing and strengthening our vitally important work.

On 11 October 2019, the Meeting of Cultural Ministers agreed to create this new Partnership Framework responding to the outcomes of a public consultation conducted in 2018. The new Framework retains the most effective elements of the former iteration. At this time, it was agreed that additional companies needed to be invited into the Framework to more clearly represent the depth of artistic knowledge and activity across the country.

Alongside ILBIJERRI Theatre Company are Artback NT, Back to Back Theatre, Dancenorth, Griffin Theatre Company, Marrugeku, Windmill Theatre Company and Terrapin Theatre invited to broaden the scope of the Partnership Framework and reflect the importance of arts and culture for all Australians.

Australian performing arts market (APAM)

APAM is a strategic initiative of the Australia Council for the Arts designed to showcase Australian and New Zealand contemporary dance, theatre, emerging and experimental arts nationally and internationally. ILBIJERRI Is the First Nations Lead for APAM.

APAM operated for 24 years as a biennial market event in Canberra (1994-1998), Adelaide (1998-2012), and Brisbane (2014-2018). 

For 2020-2024, APAM is delivered by Creative Victoria and has evolved to reflect the increasingly connected, sophisticated and established Australian and New Zealand performing arts sector.

The key functions of APAM are:

An APAM Office, open year-round to facilitate visitors to Australia

Based in Melbourne with a national remit, a small, dedicated staff of advocates is ready to welcome, host and connect international artists, presenters, and partners with contemporary Australian performance.

Hosting 1–2 annual APAM Gatherings at established festivals around Australia

Gatherings replace the previous biennial market events, increasing the number of APAM events and the diversity of contexts in which to visit performing arts communities around the country.

Market intelligence for contemporary Australian performance

APAM will serve as an Australian-based hub of market intelligence that will benefit contemporary Australian performance and its advocates internationally.


As the First Nations Lead for APAM, ILBIJERRI brings the company’s extensive expertise and leadership as a successful and internationally engaged First Nations led organisation. 

In order to achieve our goal to substantially grow the pool of experienced First Nations producers and creative industry leaders nationwide, the partnership currently comprises:

  • a First Nations producer employed by ILBIJERRI, mentored by an experienced industry producer, both based in the APAM office, and
  • convening the APAM First Nations Advisory Group (see below), made up of performing arts sector leaders from First Nations across the country.

The strong and successful First Nations Lead partnership has the following outcomes for First Nations artists and companies:

  • Supporting greater First Nations participation in APAM and ongoing programs - Blak Lounges, APAM Gatherings, platforms and workshop programs;
  • Embedding First Nations ways of working within international market development; 
  • Encouraging self-determined intergenerational knowledge sharing and support for upcoming and emerging practitioners;
  • Creating inclusive, culturally appropriate spaces for artists to network and develop their skills.


The First Nations Advisory Group (FNAG) supports APAM’s decision making, providing advice, engagement, and guidance to the APAM Office. Collectively, the FNAG also supports the programming, cultural and creative decisions of our First Nations Lead Producers.


The APAM First Nations Framework outlines the role of the First Nations Advisory Group, sets out the foundational principles of the First Nations Lead arrangement, and defines focus areas for the APAM team, led by the First Nations producers, in developing the First Nations Program.


This quarterly digital lounge is co-hosted by an industry First Peoples guest speaker alongside APAM’s First Nations Producer. The Lounge is free of charge, and a valuable networking resource inclusive of all identifying First Peoples who are seeking a culturally safe platform for professional development, mentoring, community support and sustaining long-term relationships. Registrations are open year-round.

Top image: APAM Gathering at DreamBIG Festival, May 2021, Kaurna Country. Uncle Moogy Sumner and grandson. Image by Nharla Photography.

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