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Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns rebranded as Bulmba-ja Arts Centre

Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns rebranded as Bulmba-ja Arts Centre
January 16, 2020

The Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns (CoCA), managed by Arts Queensland, will see the cultural facility re-open with a new name, Bulmba-ja, new artworks and a new vision following its $5.9 million refurbishment by the Queensland Government.

The new name, Bulmba-ja (pronounced BULL-im-baa-jar), was selected by the Traditional Owners peoples of the region from both the Yirrgandydji and Yidinji groups, meaning house.

The refurbishment is part of a vision to support Far North Queensland arts and culture with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing arts. The centre will:

  • Showcase the unique stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Provide a distinctive cultural destination for locals, visitors and tourists
  • Strengthen the business of its partners, tenants and participants
  • Support development and presentation of diverse arts practice with a strong focus on Indigenous performing arts.

Bulmba-ja includes a new foyer, improved theatre and gallery access, flexible office space, upgraded theatre equipment and new studio spaces for arts participation and development activities.

Queensland Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch advised “the meaning of the name Bulmba-ja is highly appropriate for the site’s new focus as a place for the development and presentation of new work, particularly contemporary First Nations work.

“This multi-million dollar revitalisation of the Bulmba-ja Arts Centre is the latest investment from the Palaszczuk Government into arts and cultural initiatives for Cairns and far north Queensland region, including $15 million for the Cairns Performing Arts Centre, support for a revamp of the Munro Martin Parklands, and funding for artists and arts organisations based in the region.”

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the Bulmba-ja Arts Centre will be an ongoing home to JUTE Theatre Company and NorthSite Contemporary Arts (formerly KickArts), along with new tenants Miriki Performing Arts and The Pryce Centre for Culture and Arts.

Healy added “exciting new projects will be presented at Bulmba-ja in 2020 and beyond, showcasing the work of indigenous artists and providing a place for visitors to engage with arts experiences.

“Along with a vibrant and welcoming new look, Bulmba-ja incorporates a Yarning Circle and Elder’s lounge along with a unique integrated LED facade which will display a series of five digital artworks over 2020, commissioned by NorthSite Contemporary Arts.”  


The first two works to feature on the facade are from artists Bernard Singleton (Umpila, Djabuguy/Yirrganydji) and Carl Fourmile (Yidinji).

Fourmile advised “I’m working with drawings on photographs of the Inlet and this Country, Gimuy.

“I love to be able to network and share with locals and the wider community about culture and our beliefs, so people can have a bit more understanding about this Country, and what it is to be a Bama person.”

Fellow artist Bernard Singleton added “my design is Dadikal – the fishbone totem. Symmetry in initiation and protection by our totems binded in ochres.

“I see works on this scope as a grounding within the arts community and seeing how different approaches can portray a true connection to Country and community.

"This is an example of when respect, engagement and understanding results in showcasing traditional connections to Country.”

Images: CoCA Bulmba-ja rebranding (top) and Carl Fourmile [at left] and Bernard Singleton in front of their artworks which are the first two to be projected onto the Bulmba-ja LED facade (below). Courtesy NorthSite Contemporary Arts and Blueclick Photography.

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9th August 2019 - Harvey Lister: Cairns Convention Centre expansion great news for north Queensland

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16th July 2019 - Cairns Performing Arts Centre shortlisted for international design award

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16th April 2019 - Tanks Arts Centre named one of Queensland’s Best Experiences

18th March 2019 - Cairns tourism industry leaders call for changes to marketing of Far North Queensland

22nd January 2019 - Ticketlink relocates to new Cairns Performing Arts Centre

27th December 2018 - Striking design unveiled for Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns

16th December 2018 - Cairns Performing Arts Centre gets official opening

30th October 2018 - Cairns Performing Arts Centre set for 15th December gala opening

20th July 2016 - Cairns Indigenous Art Fair draws record crowd

28th August 2015 - Australia Council report explains ways for Australian audiences to experience more Indigenous art

23rd May 2013 - Tjapukai bids for Australian Indigenous museum

1st April 2013 - Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park selects Centaman attractions management solution

5th July 2012 - $48 million in Federal funding for Indigenous arts, culture and languages

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