"WE WILL MOVE FORWARD": JAKE NASH LOOKS TO THE FUTURE AFTER VOICE DISAPPOINTMENT.
By Nick Galvin
SMH 5 January 2024
Six years ago, then Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch conceived the idea of staging a vigil on the Barangaroo Headland on January 25, the day before Australia Day. The simple genius behind his proposal, now a fixture in Sydney’s calendar, was to provide an inclusive space to reflect on the moment immediately before the invasion of Australia and its implications for Indigenous Australians.
Now Jake Nash, who is programming the festival’s Blak Out component for the third year, is custodian of the event in a particularly challenging moment for Australia’s First Nations people following the rejection of the proposal for an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament.
“When Wesley was handing over the vigil he told me that it can be anything we want it to be as First Nations people,” says Nash. “It started off as a need to come together on the 25th to reflect on the 26th. But that conversation, about who we are as First Nations people, can change each year.”
Fittingly, the focus of this year’s vigil is firmly on the future. The centrepiece will be a performance by the Marliya Choir, young Indigenous singers from Cairns. The youngsters will reflect not only on their hopes and dreams for the future but also on today’s harsher realities of life for First Nations people.
“There is clarity and purity in the way they share their message, which I think is so what we need right now,” says Nash. “It’s not clouded by politics, it’s just this truth-telling. In a lot of ways that truth-telling is across all the festival. We’re telling stories from all around the country and while there’s an element of looking back at the history there are also moments where we look directly forward.”
However, Nash says, looking to the future is not necessarily about “moving on” from the emotional impact of the failed referendum.
Sydney Festival continues until January 28 2024.
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IMAGE: Jake Nash is presenting his third Blak Out program as part of the Sydney Festival. CREDIT: OSCAR COLMAN