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Music and art event helps raise donations for Indigenous communities in Australia

Cailey Mcginn
News Writer
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Photo by Cailey Mcginn                                   Fwiut! A local jazz band warms up for its opening performance at Static Age Records.

 A music and art event to raise money for aboriginal communities in Australia raised more than $250  last week and will continue to contribute donations for the entirety of the art exhibit. The donations of the event went to the Wirrpanda Foundation.  
‘Fruit!’ was the first band for the music portion of the event on Feb. 18 at Static Age Records. The band opened the evening with some energetic jazz and jazz fusion. 
“We hope this event attracts people for a great cause, in terms of helping people who are affected by the fires in the long game,” Kevin Williams, the band’s pianist, said.
The event was lively and positive. Most bands, artists, and coordinators of the event spoke on how the issue at hand was pressing and important. The event was focused on helping people and wildlife in need but more specifically “A group and community often are forgotten.” said Hale. 
The Wirrpanda foundation stands for “ the provision of education and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians” as said by the foundation. First Nation communities have been disproportionately affected by the fires, said Wirrpanda. 
The Wirrpamda foundation has been around seince 2005. The West Coast Eagles registered David Wirrpanda Foundation Inc in 2001. The foundation launched in 2005 f at the old Subiaco Football Club
The lead vocalist and guitarist for the band Dulci Ellenberger said the band, which has played together for about a decade, loves to do benefit events such as this one and wants to participate in more in the future. Gatlin Hale, a former UNC Asheville student and organizer of the event, said the Wirrpanda Foundation stood out to him for many reasons. 
“They have a specific program called ‘Deadly Sista Girls’ that is an after-school program that helps improve attendance to school, employment and help with building self-esteem,” Hale said. The program now includes 12 delivery sites across Australia as according to the foundationHale feels that these types of programs are more sustainable and helpful than short term financial aid. These programs help build a sense of community. 
The Wirrpanda foundation has adopted many programs. These programs are to help with all facets of aborigonal life. Some of the programs that function alongside the ‘Deadly Sista Girls’ program are the youth justice contracts: Bunuru in partnership with Outcare and Full Circle partnership with Life without Barriers in the West Kimberley, the Empowering Youth Initiatives program: Bidi Waalitj, in collaboration with the West Coast Eagles and the Department of Jobs and Small Business as according to the foundation. 
Hale said he really likes this aspect of the program because it inspires them to be powerful women. The foundation has lots of unique programs that help communities get back on their feet. In March of 2014, the foundation helped 59 people in the program gain driver’s licenses as according to the foundation.
Hale’s reasoning for using the Wirrpanda Foundation was the number of donors to other organizations in light of the wildfires. In his mind, a lot of people have been focused on regular Australians and wildlife. He said he mainly wanted to focus on First Nation communities in the long term.  Hale feels that in order to make a lasting change in these communities long term aid has to be a huge element of donations.
“This money is going to go toward an organization that’s been working long term with First Nation communities for years, where they try and help people through education, to get employment and in general help people get back up on their feet,” Hale said. 
The event had a great crowd size. Attendees came from both UNCA and the greater Asheville community.  I was surprised to see some familiar faces from around campus and alumni. More people turned up for the music event than the art event, but people enjoyed the art while they listened to music. 
The art show lasted from 7  to 9:30 p.m. and the live music went from 9:30 1 a.m.. Some of the art mediums included print work, paintings, graphite drawings, and photography. The pieces were topical to the event and their installment will be for the duration of February. These pieces are available for purchase. All purchases go toward the Wirrpanda Foundation.
The bands that played were a mixture of many genres including, jazz, rock, EDM and more. The bands all spoke to the general message of the event. The first band  Fruit! was followed by Daddy’s Credit Card, 13ag h8ad, Moves, and Mouth Breathers. Each band brought something new and exciting to the table. The band 13ag h8ad, for instance, wears bags over their heads during performances to protest capital punishment.
One of the artists, Bailey McCreight performed her solo project entitled Daddy’s Credit Card. McCreight said she usually plays in bands but has worked on this solo project for quite some time. The project is a unique blend of metal and EDM. Bailey works with Hale, as well as many of the other artists and bands participating. 
McCreight’s inspiration for participating in the event stems from her want for her music to stand more for than its face value. “Music popularity is tied into how cool you are or whatever, but it’s nice to step out of that and just do something for the sake of doing it,” McCreight said.
 Many art pieces were sold and the music event was very popular. Attendees seemed really in touch and educated about what the event was for and gave donations generously. Most attendees bought artwork or gave direct donations at the door.
Izabel Colleti, a UNCA student and attendee of the event, went because of the horrific effects of the Australian bush fires on both these communities as well as the wildlife. “Lots of koalas are dying. There are no koalas anywhere else in the world. The only marsupial North America is the possum,” Colletti said.
 Colletti said she has a deep concern for wildlife diversity as well as aiding the communities affected. She said she was impressed by the event itself in that somewhere halfway across the world cares about a place that the majority of us have never been too. “Australia probably has no idea where Ashville is or who we are but somehow raising money for them,” Colletti said. 

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