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Case Studies Ben Hakalitz performing with Small Island Big Song | RAF Case Study (2018)

Ben Hakalitz performing with Small Island Big Song (at SXSW in Austin, Texas, USA) #

A Quick Response Grant recipient, via the Regional Arts Fund, as managed by Flying Arts Alliance.

Ben Hakalitz was invited as a feature artist to perform at the South by South West [SXSW] music festival, as part of the Small Island Big Song live performance in Austin, Texas, USA. 
 SXSW is the largest music festival of it’s in the kind in the world, with over 2000 acts.

The SXSW music festival invites artists, industry professionals, and fans from all over the world to Austin, Texas for a week every March, to attend performances by iconic artists, make professional connections, elevate their musical careers, and discover the next wave of musical talent.
The support from the regional arts fund helped Ben with the costs of an intensive group rehearsal in preparation for the showcase at SXSW.

“[…] a prime reason for attending SXSW, to show that amongst the latest hip-hop act from Chicago, indie guitar band from Australia, electro pop from Sweden, we could stand on that stage, holding our own, playing the music of our heritage, representing the traditional/contemporary voice of Oceania, as as relevant as any one else. It was a powerful statement. Which is why too, we all went to SXSW; ours is a story for the world, SXSW is a doorway to reach the world through,” explained Ben.

Ben is a highly respected veteran of the Melanesian music scene with a musical career spanning over 30 years; founding member of the Tribe of Jubal, the artistic director of Melanfunk, and also the drummer of Yothu Yindi.

Cultural & Economic Impacts:

  • The opportunity to explore further international cultural connections during the rehearsal period and subsequent concert performance
  • The furtherance of personal understanding of cultural heritage and values
  • Development of capacity to express cultural heritage through the medium of music
  • Invaluable formation of new partnerships, including new professional and social networks; providing opportunity for further international exposure. This includes networks through artists, industry leaders, audiences, festival directors and promoters, and management personnel
  • New and ongoing employment opportunities for the Small Island Big Song project, including international touring and television appearances
  • Reach – broadening the reach of audience engagement, and economic market exposure

Social Impacts:

  • Empowerment of cultural groups in a global context; this was the first time that musicians from the Oceanic region and performed at SXSW
  • Cross-cultural engagement – the musicians involved in this aspect of the project came from the Solomon Islands, Australia’s Torres Strait Islands, Sarawak Malaysia and Rapa Nui (Easter Islands) and Papua New Guinea, as well as representing multicultural Australia
  • Reduced the perceived social isolation of skaters from the broader community and revealed skating as an art and physical form to celebrate
  • Increased capacity of formal production organisation through an intensive rehearsal initiative
  • The Small Island Big Song project has the motivating brief of raising awareness of the cultures, environment and issues of the Indian and Pacific through a collaborative arts project uniting indigenous musicians of the region


Ben Hakalitz’s website
South by South West website
Small Island, Big Song website

Image: Small Island Big Song premiere at SXSW, Austin, Texas, USA. 2018. Photo by: BaoBao Chen