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Keeping culture strong in the Torres Strait: Celebrating 20 years of the Gab Titui Cultural Centre

The Culture, Art and Heritage Program Dance Team performs at the 20th anniversary celebrations. Photo Credit: George Serras

This month, the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) commemorated the 20th Anniversary of the Gab Titui Cultural Centre with a grand celebration held on Waibene (Thursday Island) in the Kaiwalagal region of the Kaurareg Nation.

The event honoured the visionaries and advocates who pioneered the establishment of the Centre, which opened in 2004.

In his keynote address on Tuesday 16 April, TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM said the milestone was testament to the region’s efforts in cultural revitalisation, steered by cultural leaders like the late Adhi Ephraim Bani.

“His profound commitment to creating a ‘keeping place’ for our languages, cultures and art ensured the Centre became a beacon of cultural preservation and economic development,” Mr Stephen said.

“The Gab Titui Cultural Centre has been keeping our cultures strong for the past 20 years, especially through cultural maintenance exhibitions, presented in the Ephraim Bani gallery.

“Adhi Ephraim Bani’s legacy lives on through Gab Titui and the TSRA is committed to ensuring its continued success aligns with the visions of our Elders,” he said.

Distinguished guests joined the formalities, including Kaurareg Elder and Representative Ms Enid Tom, Mrs Petharie Bani and Mr Gabriel Bani who acknowledged his father’s legacy and addressed the importance of cultural survival.

“My father always insisted that a life without culture, is a life without life,” Mr Bani said.

“I have always lived by his words and practiced our culture, languages and traditions.

“It is important that we practice our culture as Torres Strait Islanders, whether that is through everyday life or art.

“Institutions like Gab Titui provides the resources, platforms and opportunities for our people to celebrate culture and generate economic independence,” he said.

Since 2004, Gab Titui has received numerous accolades, including induction into the Queensland Tourism Awards Hall of Fame for excellence in Indigenous tourism and international acclaim for touring exhibitions. Notable achievements also include the establishment of the now biennial Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award and support for three regional art centres to nurture artistic expression across the outer island communities.

Today, Gab Titui continues its mission to promote cultural revitalisation and economic development. With more than 120 supported artists and an annual exhibition and artist development schedule, the Centre remains a hub for cultural exchange and artistic innovation.

“As we celebrate 20 incredible years of keeping culture strong, we invite everyone to engage with our local artists and immerse themselves in authentic First Nations art and culture,” Mr Stephen said.

“Visit the Centre now and beyond today, it is here for sharing our culture, showcasing local artists and preserving the region’s rich cultural history.”

For more information about Gab Titui Cultural Centre, please visit shop.gabtitui.gov.au

Fast facts:

  • The Gab Titui Cultural Centre is located on the corner of Victoria Parade and Blackall Street, Thursday Island Qld 4875
  • The Centre is open Monday – Friday 10am to 3pm and Saturday 9:30am to 1pm (November to March) and Monday – Friday 9am – 4:30pm and Saturday 9:30am – 1pm (April to October).
  • The Gab Titui Cultural Centre’s 20th Anniversary was held on 16 April 2024.
  • The festivities included a vibrant program of culture and art activities from 16 to 20 April 2024.
  • Petharie Bani and son Gabriel Bani cutting the 20th Anniversary cake.
  • The Culture, Art and Heritage ProgramDance Team performs at the 20th anniversary celebrations.
  • The Culture, Art and Heritage Program Dance Team performs at the 20th anniversary celebrations.
  • Eip Karem Beizam Dance Team performs at the 20th anniversary celebrations.
  • The Gubaw Goeyga Dance Team performs at the 20th anniversary celebrations.
  • Gabriel Bani and TSRA Chairperson Napau Pedro Stepen AM at the 20th anniversary celebrations.
  • Petharie Bani (middle) with son Gabriel Bani (right) and daughter-in-law Timena Bani.
  • The Bani family at the 20th anniversary celebrations.

Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people are advised this website may contain names, images and recordings of people who have passed.