JUTE keeps Indigenous storytelling alive
Storytelling is a vital part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, allowing beliefs and concepts to be passed on through generations. JUTE Theatre Company (JUTE) uses theatre performance and workshop participation to present professional role models and positive stories about a range of Indigenous experiences and possible futures.
Founded in Cairns in 1992, JUTE helps Indigenous students feel valued and connected, by letting them see their cultures and stories represented on stage. There are also longer-term benefits in employment and post-school options for young Indigenous people. Since the beginning of its Dare to Dream program, JUTE has impacted over 6,000 young people and community members in remote parts of North Queensland with more than 3,600 young people taking part in skills development workshops.
With the support of a $15,000 ANZ Seeds of Renewal grant, JUTE was able to take its 2019 show, The Longest Minute, to 10 North Queensland schools in Lockhart River, Bamaga, Mapoon, Mossman, Ravenshoe, Yarrabah, Mt Isa, Doomadgee and Cloncurry – all very remote locations with significant numbers of Indigenous students. The Longest Minute is a story about the 2015 National Rugby League Grand Final, won by local heroes, North Queensland Cowboys in a nail-biting finish.
The funding helped JUTE refine its school program to meet a broad range of needs across artists and facilitators, community, schools and students.
"It was fantastic," said one of the Mapoon teachers. "The acting was incredible, and it offered our students an opportunity to see successful Indigenous people who are proud of their identity performing at their best. This is something we don't have easy access to, being so remote.”