A Griffith University project bringing together university students and Indigenous communities aims to incorporate Indigenous arts into Australian universities and colleges.

Dr Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, from the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre said despite policies aligning inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and content, their incorporation was still minimal.

“While some educators have brought Indigenous artists into creative arts classrooms, the inclusion of Indigenous content is often tokenistic and abstract.

“Our project takes students from four universities into Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia to work on arts projects,’’ Dr Bartleet said.

Over the past three years, the researchers have been running an arts-based service learning program with Barkly Regional Arts and Winanjjikari Music Centre in Tennant Creek, NT.

Students and staff have worked alongside Indigenous artists and Elders on a range of community-led programs, including recording and writing albums, documenting cultural activities, managing community festivals and building community arts infrastructure.

Since 2009, the program has involved more than 30 students across seven undergraduate programs (popular music, music technology, applied theatre, film and education).

“Tennant Creek and the Barkley region are rich in Indigenous cultural life with about 70 per cent of the populations Indigenous,’’ Dr Bartleet said.

Partner Barkly Regional Arts provides an interface between Indigenous and on-indigenous cultures, providing 50 annual programs and projects to more than 800 artists across the region.

The program’s second partner, Winanjjikari Music Centre is a music production house and training centre for Indigenous musicians and music production technicians in Tennant Creek.

Tertiary partners include the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Curtin University and the University of Western Sydney.

“The project develops intercultural understanding, deepens students’ appreciation of Indigenous culture and also supports Indigenous communities through arts activities that directly benefit them,’’ Dr Bartleet said.

Dr Bartleet will present a paper on the project at the Creative Communities3 Conference at the Crown Plaza, Gold Coast on Friday, September 28 at 1pm.