Following on from landing a nomination as Northern Territory finalists in the 2013 Australian of the Year award, Mark Grose and Michael Hohnen, the founders of Indigenous music label Skinnyfish Music have become stakeholders in the Barunga Festival.

As The Music reports, the festival is now approaching its 27th iteration, which is held in a small indigenous community south of Katherine, NT where participants set up camp, take part in community programs and workshops, dancing ceremonies, didgeridoo making, traditional bush tucker,  and of course, plenty of great music from the region.

Grose and Hohnen have now been given the chance to run Barunga Festival for the next half-decade after discussions with senior members of the Bagala people and the local community, to help build upon its already rich history as a local celebration of community.

“We strongly believe in the important role that community festivals play and are fully committed to ensuring that the Barunga Festival is a community event with community outcomes including sustained training opportunities and small business development,” said Skinnyfish Managing Director Mark Grose in a media release yesterday.

Wes Miller, CEO of Jawoyn Association Aboriginal Corporation who help put on the annual June festival, welcomed the new Skinnyfish stakeholders. “We give our full blessing to this arrangement with Skinnyfish Music and will provide whatever support we can,” said Miller. “We hope that sponsors and supporters of the festival will also embrace this agreement and help get the ball rolling for 2013.” “We strongly believe in the important role that community festivals play and are fully committed to ensuring that the Barunga Festival is a community event with community outcomes…”

The 2013 event will take place on the June long weekend, from Friday 7 June through to Monday 10. It’s more positive news for the event after the Northern Territory Government helped ensure its survival by injecting $50,000 towards the costs of running the event, rescuing Barunga Festival from cancellation, according to ABC News.

Last year’s music program featured the annual Road Safety Song Competition of local singers, the Djilpin and White Cockatoo dancers, and a magnificent fire show by the Beswick Fire B Boyz, along with a host of local indigenous bands from across the state playing through to midnight.

The news of Hohnen and Grose’s new investment in the festival arrives after the founders of the Darwin-based music label, which has been instrumental over the past 14 years in mentoring bands and artists through initiatives based around self promotion and business development, were named as finalists in the NT Australian of the Year Awards.

Hohnend and Grose set out to use their music label to connect remote, often isolated communities with popular music markets as well as placing particular emphasis on preserving Indigenous language and artistic culture.

Skinnyfish Music work with artists such as Saltwater, Dewayne Everettsmith, Nabarlek, and Gurrumul, who performed for the Queen at her Diamond Jubilee earlier this year and even US President Barack Obama.
Speaking of their nomination, Hohnen welcomed the news of their nomination, saying “it’s an honor that our contribution is now acknowledged.”
His partner, Grose added: “Music is the key to unlocking potential. It has the power to motivate a new generation to pursue careers that offer economic independence, benefit individuals, their families and the communities of remote Northern Australia.”

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