18 Feb, 2014 Last updated: 17 Jul, 2015

Six of Victoria's finest actors, comedians and musicians have been honoured at the Victorian Indigenous Performing Arts awards.

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Six of Victoria's finest actors, comedians and musicians have been honoured at the Victorian Indigenous Performing Arts awards.

The Victorian Indigenous Performing Arts Awards were presented as the closing event of the  2014 Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival. The event was co-presented by ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and Songlines Aboriginal Music Corporation.

This was the second time the two  organisations have come together to the present the awards. The union is fitting as both are  hugely respected throughout the industry and have played a significant role in nurturing and developing local Indigenous talent over the years. Together the two organisations presented six awards across the categories of theatre and music.

The awards are peer assessed and selected by a panel of industry professionals, who evaluate the talents and efforts of the Indigenous artists and arts workers living and working in Victoria, particularly over the last twelve months.

The audiences were treated to musical performances by Lee Morgan (Contribution to the Victorian Indigenous Music Industry 2012) and Benny Walker (Most Promising Act 2012) who both received VIPA Awards in 2012.

The master of ceremonies, Kevin Kropinyeri had the audience in stitches. The Victorian-based comedian was nominated in 2012 for the Aunty Eleanor Memorial Harding Award and was lucky enough to receive the 2013 Uncle Jack Charles Award.

The awards were supported by the City of Melbourne through Arts House and the Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival, the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation and VicHealth.

Theatre awards


Based in Melbourne, Carly Sheppard is an Indigenous dancer and choreographer descending from the Kurtcha and Talaluk Tribes of North QLD. Carly has worked with a range of artists and companies. 

Her current projects include performing with Ochre Contemporary Dance Company, Circus With Spice, a community circus project in New Delhi, India, by Vertical Circus, and her first Independent choreographic project for the 2014 Next Wave Festival.

Kevin KropinyeriUNCLE JACK CHARLES AWARD: Kevin Kropinyeri

After winning the 2008 Melbourne Comedy Festival’s national Deadly Funny comedy competition, Kevin has quickly established himself on the national circuit, touring for almost twelve months of the year and releasing his own live DVD. 

Special highlights have included appearances at the Deadly Awards three years running and touring with the internationally famous Chooky Dancers.

Noel ToveyUNCLE BOB MAZA AWARD: Noel Tovey

Noel has had a career spanning 60 years in Europe and Australia as an actor, dancer, singer, director choreographer, designer, writer and teacher. 

Among his many career highlights include; being a Principal dancer with the Sadler Wells Opera Ballet, choreographing the 1966 revival of The Boyfriend in the West End, performing in the world premiere of Oh! Calcutta!, co-founding the London Children’s Theatre and directing the ground breaking Indigenous production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the 2000 Olympics at the Sydney Theatre

Music awards

Crystal MercyMOST PROMISING ACT AWARD: Crystal Mercy

Crystal Mercy is a proud Kokkath woman from Ceduna, South Australia. Starting out as a fiery femme fatale rapper, Lady Lash, Crystal has now found a perfect niche for her powerful voice by incorporating her love of blues and jazz into her musical repertoire. 

Crystal’s debut album ‘The Fisherman’s Daughter’ was released in 2013.

Dave ArdenSONG OF THE YEAR AWARD: ‘Freedom Called’ By Dave Arden

Dave Arden is a songman who belongs to the Gunditjmara clan in Western District Victoria and the Googatha people of South Australia. 

He is a prolific and accomplished musician who has played for more than two decades alongside many of Australia’s music greats including Archie Roach, Kutcha Edwards and Shane Howard.


Lou is a consummate performer hailing from Yorta Yorta / Dja Dja Wurrung country in Victoria. Lou is currently Artistic Director of Black Arm Band, who have toured to every major centre nationally, extensively throughout remote and regional Australia and have undertaken five  successful major international tours.

 Lou has been instrumental in the journey of Black Arm Band from ‘special project’ to fully independent Aboriginal governed company.