Nested inside banner

Culture Art and Heritage

Welcome to the TSRA’s Culture, Art and Heritage Programme.

The cultural traditions, language and knowledge of the people of the Torres Strait are some of the longest enduring in the world.

The TSRA’s Culture, Art and Heritage Programme works with communities to protect, promote revitalise and maintain Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal traditions and cultural heritage (Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area Regional Plan 2009-2029) through cultural maintenance and arts development initiatives, and the Gab Titui Cultural Centre. Specific programme outcomes, benefits and performance measures are identified in the Torres Strait Development Plan 2014-2018, the TSRA Torres Strait Arts Development Plan and Gab Titui Cultural Centre Business Plan.

Key Initiatives and Recent Activities

Cultural Maintenance

Project purpose: to support the cultural development and maintenance of Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people residing within the Torres Strait; to embed the TSRA Cultural Policy within all TSRA administrative and service delivery processes.

Recent Activities:

Music and Dance Audit

The TSRA Music and Dance Audit project has been in place since 2007, producing music and dance recordings across 13 communities in the Torres Strait. The project is an important cultural maintenance initiative, recording language and song throughout the region. Traditional and contemporary pieces are chosen by the community for inclusion on CD/DVD packages, which are made available for safekeeping, and promotion (sale) through the Gab Titui Cultural Centre.

CD/DVD packages produced to date include:

- Badu Nawul: Traditional and Contemporary Music and Dance from Badu Island, Torres Strait

- Erub Era Kodo Mer: Traditional and Contemporary Music and Dance from Erub Island, Torres Strait

- Iama Wakai Tusi/Voices from Iama: Traditional and Contemporary Music and Dance of Iama Island, Torres Strait

- Kaiwalagal Wakai: Music and Dance from the Inner Western Islands of the Torres Strait

- Mabuygiw Awgadhaw Nawul: Traditional and Contemporary Music and Dance of Mabuiag Island, Torres Strait

- Warraber Au Bunyg Wakai: Traditional and Contemporary Music and Dance of Warraber Island, Torres Strait

- Boeygulgaw Sagulal A Mura Nangu Wakayil: Traditional and Contemporary Music and Dance from Boigu Island, Torres Strait

- Poruma Ngaulai: Music and Dance from Poruma Island, Torres Strait

- Saibai Nangu Wakayl: Music and Dance from Saibai Island, Torres Strait

- Lagau Kompass: Music and Dance from St Paul’s Community, Moa Island

- Keriba Ged: Traditional and Contemporary Music and Dance from the Murray Islands, Torres Strait

CD/DVD packages of music and dance from Masig Island and Kubin Community, Moa Island are currently in production.

Torres Strait Dance Strategy

The Torres Strait Dance Strategy aims to provide a strategic approach to the promotion and development of dance within the Torres Strait whilst ensuring a broad cross-section of support and alignment to the Culture, Art and Heritage (CAH) Programme outcomes.

Since 2011, the CAH Programme has sought partnerships that provide opportunities for local dance teams to participate in major national and international events, including:

2011 – Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, QLD

2012 – Henley Festival, United Kingdom

2013 – WOMAdelaide, SA

2014 – Darwin Festival, NT; Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, QLD

Community Cultural Planning

The TSRA’s Community Cultural Planning project establishes a community owned and managed Cultural Plan for individual communities in the Torres Strait. Each plan aims to identify and record information about the demographic, historical and cultural assets of each community, and to plan a path forward to capitalise on any assets. The TSRA (and specifically Culture, Art and Heritage Programme) also draws from these plans information regarding cultural aspirations to guide engagement with communities.

Cultural Plans have been completed in the communities of Erub and Poruma.

The TSRA’s Cultural Development Officer coordinates these activities, and works closely with the Gab Titui Cultural Centre in the development and delivery of the cultural maintenance exhibition programme, within the Ephraim Bani Gallery of the Gab Titui Cultural Centre.

Arts Development

Project Purpose: To implement the TSRA Torres Strait Arts Development Plan to achieve:

- a skilled and professional Torres Strait Islander arts industry

- a regular supply of diverse Torres Strait Islander art to all identified markets, with a focus on high-quality work

- an increase in Torres Strait Islander art sold across all markets

Current Activities:

Art Centre Support

The TSRA, through its Arts Development Officer, has supported the establishment of art centres on three islands in the Torres Strait – Erub Erwer Meta (Erub), Badhulgaw Kuthinaw Mudh (Badu), and Ngalmun Lagau Minaral (Moa).

The Arts Development Officer continues to provide support to art centres in the region, through the provision of operational funding, and facilitation of activities including governance training, art skills development, and exhibition opportunities.

Art Skills and Product Development Workshops

Through art skills and product development workshops, the CAH Programme facilitates training to build skills in communities and create economic opportunities for artists. Targeted workshops aim to develop intensive skills in areas appropriate to individual communities, determined by level of interest, access to resources and sustainability. New skills are applied to product development and market tested through the Gab Titui Cultural Centre Gallery Shop. Most recent skills development workshops have focussed on the traditional skills of carving, weaving and drum making, and in the contemporary skills of painting, printing and 3D design.

Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award

The Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award is an annual exhibition of works created by artists throughout the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area. Established in 2008, the Award aims to promote the distinct style and production of contemporary and traditional art unique to the Torres Strait region, while also giving local artists the opportunity to gain professional experience in exhibition protocol.

The Award has become an important event in the exhibition calendar of the Gab Titui Cultural Centre, featuring guest judges from major national institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Art Gallery of South Australia.

Gab Titui Cultural Centre

The Gab Titui Cultural Centre was established in 2004 as the region’s first keeping place, and a gateway for presenting, preserving, promoting and providing information to the public about Torres Strait Islander culture and arts. The Centre services 20 communities in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area, working closely with the TSRA Cultural Development Officer and Arts Development Officer to support artists throughout the region.

Publications and Links

TSRA Cultural Policy

TSRA Cultural Protocols Guide for Staff

Gab Titui Cultural Centre Website 


News/Upcoming Events

675 Gab Titui GTCC Renovations 2015 25 February 2016

689 GTCC Gallery and Museum Achievement Award 2 December 2015

685 NGA Indigenous Arts Leadership Programme 23 November 2015

683 Ettie Mosby CD Recording 16 November 2015

679 Dance Strategy generates performance opportunities during the Torres Strait Treaty anniversary 20 October 2015


[back to top]