Wesfarmers Arts

Wesfarmers has been a leading supporter of the arts sector for more than four decades. Our partnerships with diverse premier arts and cultural organisations in Western Australia and nationally reflect our belief in the vital contribution the arts make to vibrant communities in which creativity, social cohesion and innovation thrive.

In 2022, we continued to support our arts partners as they were impacted by COVID-19, providing significant, targeted support to keep artists employed when performances were suspended and galleries were closed.

Alongside our ongoing long-term arts partnership program, we made significant contributions to establish a range of new arts stimulus initiatives.

In partnership with Perth Symphony Orchestra, we invested in the development of the Women on the Podium program, an unprecedented professional scholarship for Western Australian women musicians to undertake training and mentorship in orchestral conducting. This unique program offers opportunities for young women artists in a wide range of musical fields to work with world-class mentors from the UK and Australia, creating a supportive environment and professional network for aspiring women conductors and music leaders. Wesfarmers’ support is enabling young scholarship recipients aged 18 to 26 to work with the Perth Symphony Orchestra for a full year with the aim of fostering the next generation of Australian women conductors, an industry that has historically seen significant under-representation of women practitioners.

During the year, we presented the exhibition Ever Present: First Peoples Art of Australia at the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) from December 2021 to April 2022, and drew in about 45,000 viewers during that time.

This landmark exhibition charts the evolution of First Nations art in Australia, and draws from the National Gallery of Australia and The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art. It consists of more than one hundred rare and iconic historical and contemporary works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across Australia, assembled for a worldwide audience.

Following its exhibition at AGWA, Ever Present is touring internationally in 2022 and 2023, commencing in Singapore at the National Gallery Singapore from May to September 2022. The exhibition is the largest exhibition of First Nations art ever to travel to Asia.

Additionally, we contributed Founding Partner support during the year towards the inaugural Yajilarra (Let us Dream) Festival of Indigenous art and culture, held in July 2021 on Bunuba Country inside Danggu Geikie Gorge, Fitzroy Crossing in the far north of Western Australia. Organised by the Bunuba Traditional Owners, this new festival celebrates Bunuba language and culture with a three-day, on-Country program of performances, talks and cultural events to engage young people with ancestral knowledge and offer visitors to Bunuba Country an authentic cultural experience which will establish foundations for ongoing employment opportunities for Bunuba people in the tourism sector.

The year also saw the Australian premiere of West Australian Opera commission Koolbardi wer Wardong, Australia’s first indigenous opera, created as a Wesfarmers Arts Commission by celebrated Nyoongar musician and songwriter Gina Williams AM and Guy Ghouse. Performed entirely in Nyoongar language by an Indigenous cast and Nyoongar children’s choir conducted by Australia’s only Indigenous orchestral conductor Aaron Wyatt, Koolbardi wer Wardong premiered to critical and popular acclaim at His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth in October 2021. The production is touring Western Australian regional centres in 2022, with plans for national touring in 2023.

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