Lismore-born Bundjalung woman Rhoda Roberts has been appointed the first-ever head of Indigenous programming at the Sydney Opera House.
Rhoda said it was "an honour" to get the role, which will include overseeing Indigenous arts and cultural programming, developing creative Indigenous groups within the community, fostering relationships between the Opera House and Indigenous audiences, and developing leadership and mentoring programs for upcoming and mid-career artists.
"The Opera House has a commitment to a reconciliation action plan. They are doing something tangible by creating a position at this executive level," Rhoda said. "It's such a wonderful role. I hope I do it justice."
Rhoda brings to the role extensive experience in Indigenous arts. She was the founder and artistic director of The Dreaming Festival at Woodford, the artistic director of the Sydney Dreaming Festival, and artistic director of the Festival of the Dreaming staged in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. She has worked extensively in radio and television and recently opened the Rhoda Roberts Indigenous Art Gallery at New Italy.
Next month she will be the artistic director of the 13th Message Stick festival to be held at the Opera House, an event she helped to establish when she was a member of the Opera House Trust.
"There are lots of free events (at Message Stick) to attract people, including interstate and overseas visitors who want to have an Aboriginal experience while looking at this iconic building we have," Rhoda said. "We have a space called "dance-cestory grounds" - a term I coined because dance is our ancestry. We will encourage the audience to participate and experience the feeling of being at corroboree while showing how diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is across the country."