Archie Roach AM to be presented Distinguished Artist Award at the Melbourne 2016 ISPA Congress

Archie Roach AM to be presented Distinguished Artist Award at the Melbourne 2016 ISPA Congress

Celebrated Australian musician Archie Roach AM will be awarded the Distinguished Artist Award at the Melbourne 2016 International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) Congress this Thursday 2 June, with revered journalist and author Stan Grant presenting the accolade to the tireless social justice campaigner.

There are few Australian voices in the debate on Indigenous welfare that resonate as strongly as Archie Roach’s. He is one of Australia’s most renowned Indigenous artists and influential singer-songwriters, de facto spokesperson for the Stolen Generations and a committed activist for Indigenous rights.

ISPA is a global network of more than 450 leaders in the performing arts with representation from more than 185 cities and all regions of the globe. Twice a year, ISPA Congresses bring together performing arts leaders to discover the next great idea, strengthen relationships, and rejuvenate their passion for the arts. The Distinguished Artist Award is presented to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution of talent, dedication and service to the world of the performing arts and have gone above and beyond their prowess as artists.

Archie’s song Took The Children Away (from his 1990 debut album Charcoal Lane) shone a spotlight on the impact of the forcible removal of Indigenous children from their families and highlighted the trauma and repercussions to the global community. It won two ARIA Awards and, uniquely for a song, an international Human Rights Achievement Award.

25 years and eight albums later, Archie’s work has been recognised internationally, in mainstream and Indigenous circles, and he has toured with some of the world’s most iconic artists, including Leonard Cohen, Rodriguez, Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, Billy Bragg, Paul Simon, Joan Armatrading, Suzanne Vega and Patti Smith.

His work reflects issues facing Indigenous Australians, as well as exploring universal themes of love, friendship, family and community. His commitment to being a catalyst for change remains undiminished; he is a spokesperson for social justice, working in Indigenous communities and mentoring young and emerging Indigenous artists.

As a leadership network, ISPA is committed not only to providing leadership development opportunities, but also recognising excellence in the performing arts globally. All award nominations are reviewed by the Nominating Committee Members and then a slate of nominees is recommended to the Board of Directors for approval. Hosts of the International Congresses may also elect to present awards to individuals or organisations of distinction from their region.

Also receiving awards on Thursday will be the Myer Family (Angel Award), celebrating Sidney Myer and successive generations of his family, who have enriched cultural life through their enduring support of the arts. Sue Nattrass AO will be presented with the International Citation of Merit for a lifetime in the performing arts in various roles leading large performing arts centres.

Previous award recipients include Ravi Shankar, Dame Joan Sutherland, Evelyn Glennie, Pierre Boulez and Mandawuy Yunupingu.

Interview and photography opportunities with Archie Roach, Stan Grant and other ISPA award recipients will be available from 4.45pm, TOMORROW, Thursday 2 June at Deakin Edge, Federation Square.

For further media information and interviews, please contact: Stephanie Jones, Publicist, Arts Centre Melbourne: or 03 9281 8214

For more information about Arts Centre Melbourne visit or phone 1300 182 183. Become a fan of Arts Centre Melbourne on Facebook or follow @artscentremelb on Twitter.

For more information on the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) Congress, visit