A New 'House' For Indigenous Arts

Practical completion of the $5.9 million Bulmba-ja Arts Centre, Cairns was achieved in December 2020 after Hansen Yuncken commenced the refurbishment in April 2019. Managed by Arts Queensland, the building – formerly known as the Cairns Centre of Contemporary Arts (CoCA) – was re-named Bulmba-ja (pronounced BULL-im-baa-jar) meaning 'house'. The new name was selected by the Traditional Owners of the region from both the Yirrgandydji and Yidinji groups. 

 “The meaning of the name Bulmba-ja is highly appropriate for the site’s new focus as a place for the development and presentation of new work, particularly contemporary First Nations work.

This multi-million dollar revitalisation of the Bulmba-ja Arts Centre is the latest investment from the Palaszczuk Government into arts and cultural initiatives for Cairns and far north Queensland region.”

—Leeanne Enoch, Queensland Arts Minister

 

The art centre’s revitalisation is part of a vision to support Far North Queensland arts and culture. It involved an extensive community consultation process with stakeholders including Indigenous artists, organisations and Traditional Owners, musicians, ‘next-gen’ creative talent, arts industry and community leaders, politicians, and local council each contributing and helping shape the final project.

 

With a focus on showcasing the unique stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the Centre was designed to achieve a welcome, engaging building for all.

 

Aims:
  • provide a distinctive cultural destination for locals, visitors, and tourists
  • support development and presentation of diverse arts practice with a strong focus on Indigenous performing arts
  • provide an open and flexible office hub for existing tenants and start-up Indigenous organisations to grow, sharing knowledge and resources.

 

The refurbished building comprises a new foyer, theatre, gallery, and flexible office spaces. A creative development area with new studios and upgraded theatre equipment plays a pivotal role in the thriving Cairns arts scene. It also incorporates a unique integrated LED facade which displays digital artworks. A Yarning Circle and Elder’s lounge offers the opportunity for Indigenous artists to network and share Aboriginal culture and beliefs with locals and the wider community.

 

The Bulmba-ja Arts Centre will be an ongoing home to the JUTE Theatre Company and NorthSite Contemporary Arts (formerly KickArts), along with new tenants Miriki Performing Arts and The Pryce Centre for Culture and Arts.

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