Oh, hey there!
We are Awesome Black.
Our team is 100% First Nations and we operate on Wonnarua Country. We connect with mob all over.
What do we do you might ask?
Awesome Black is a creative social enterprise, developing original First Nations talent and unique storytelling content across a variety of mediums.
In all things, we practice and preach First Nations, first.
Awesome Black generates opportunities for First Nations creatives, to successfully work in the arts, digital and creative industries. We create spaces to develop our craft, gain access to services, and create a shared platform where our voices can be heard.
Our dream is to build industry best practice, programs, networks, audiences, skills and tools within our communities that create pathways out of poverty and equitable access to authentically represented, resourced and compensated participation in the creative industries.
Our flagship programs are: Broriginals podcast, Yarn Quest podcast, Fear of a Blak Planet podcast, the First Nations Creator Program and Sound Up Australia through a partnership with Spotify Aus and NZ.
First Nations First
So how did we get started?
Travis De Vries founded Awesome Black in 2020 to create a space online for First Nations creatives to be supported for their digital content work and still maintain their independent creative control. Travis wanted a place where he could grow his own content alongside other like minded First Nations people all while making sure he was building a community of people who shared skills and opportunities amongst each other.
Before starting Awesome Black Travis had worked in large arts organisations and often found that programs for First Nations people were run by non-Indigenous people and ended up benefiting the organisation more than people. Travis wanted to change that and make sure that we took our community along for the ride with us.
After a couple of years of research in international communities and social entrepreneur business models Travis came up with Awesome Black. A place where audiences can directly support the creatives they love and those creatives can share amongst themselves, making sure no one gets left behind.
How did Awesome Black start and why do we do what we do?
Back in 2018 Travis De Vries left his career working at the Sydney Opera House where he had produced his first podcast; Deadly Voices from the House alongside host Rhoda Roberts to pursue his artistic endeavours working from a small country studio in the Hunter Valley (Wonarua Country).
In May of that year he launched the show Broriginals with his brother Texas as a way of reconnecting with each through a shared project and with the hopes of connecting to like minded creatives and audience members.
Broriginals was a pure expressive comedic outlet for Travis who had found he needed to have an outlet where he could be irreverent in a distinct juxtaposition from his more serious artistic exhibitions and writing practice. Broriginals would become a gateway for the two brothers into creating a distinct, stylised voice that in turn connected them with an incredible community of First Nations creators on the internet.
Travis had often felt that him, his artwork and his writing had never really fit in, in school he had been one of the weird kids, but now he had found a group of people he felt were his chosen family.
Travis quickly realised that within the podcasting industry there wasn’t a whole lot of space for First Nations work in the way he wanted to make it and the people he wanted to make it with. He wanted to work on content that really spoke to him and people like him. Content that didn’t necessarily have to fit a mold that larger media outlets wanted it too.
Over eighteen months Travis met with government funding bodies and talked about his ideas for creating a First Nations creative content collective that could connect audiences and advertisers with the creators to offer them direct support for their work and reach a new audience. His dream was to create a place where First Nations creators could share skills and audiences between each other, create opportunities for each other and help each other grow.
He experimented and researched business models to achieve this and in 2020 just at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, Travis founded Awesome Black Aboriginal Corporation and AwesomeBlack.org
Before Awesome Black could grow into what it is today Travis worked for a year in the organisation, volunteering his time to create the groundwork for bringing other people into the organisation.
Now Awesome Black is producing multiple podcasts, sharing skills and knowledge with a new group of creators through the First Nations Creator Program and is working closely with Spotify Aus & NZ on the Sound Up Podcaster Program. We welcome new creators to contact us if they would like to join Awesome Black as a creator and we can work with them around how the process will work. We believe that there is not a one size fits all process for creators and so we work closely with each creator and their show to make sure it works for everyone.
Awesome Black Box
When we’re not working on Awesome Black content, you’ll find us working on The Awesome Black Box, a curated subscription box supporting and promoting other amazing First Nations businesses. (Psst.. we’d love to see you over there!)
Why First Nations first?
Awesome Black is a staunchly strengths based and future focussed organisation. We believe in highlighting the innate power and talents of First Nations peoples and our communities. Our history and trauma is ours, and while we are empowered by our survival – at Awesome Black we reject the mainstream Australian notion, that these are the only stories of value that we can produce.
At Awesome Black we are striving to create a system that ensures the wealth generated by our creative and business endeavours, stays in our communities and builds strong and stable ‘Blakonomics’. Through knowledge, resource and opportunity sharing, we can consciously support each other at a true economic level, hopefully working to build intergenerational change. At every turn we must ask, “can I buy this from a First Nations person?” The answer is often maybe, but Awesome Black believes that together we can change that answer to an always and resounding YES!
We cannot change the system all at once, but we can change how we operate within it now. So until the revolution, it’s an always and resounding First Nations First.
Awesome Black Partners
We work with a bunch of organisations and businesses to make great stuff happen, these are the people who fund our programs or have worked with us to build their own programs. Businesses we’ve helped develop and people we’ve helped to grow.