Background Image

Let’s Connect – Arts engagement in regional communities

Bringing music and inspiration to remote and regional Queensland, Lorinda May Merrypor forged lasting connections with Indigenous communities through her program to support wellbeing and arts engagement post-COVID.



In late 2020, proud Kuungkari woman and music artist Lorinda May Merrypor toured an arts workshop program to regional and remote Indigenous communities across Queensland, facilitated by touring company HIT Productions (HIT). In consultation with Aboriginal Corporations, she provided her ‘Let’s Connect’ workshops free of charge. 

The workshops were designed to create a positive social impact and to support wellbeing. Lorinda served as a role model, motivational speaker and performer. In the workshop, she shared her experiences as a young Aboriginal woman from regional Queensland who forged a career in the arts, and she invited participants to ask questions and consider their own futures. This was followed by a session to learn and perform a new original song from Australian composer Bruce Paroissien Give Yourself A Hug.

The workshop team ensured COVID-safe measures were implemented, and strived to develop strong and respectful relationships with each of the communities and the Aboriginal Corporations. 

In each community, Lorinda worked hard to engage with media, locals and to share her talent outside of the workshops as well.

To extend the benefit and reach of the project, Lorinda and HIT created a digital recording of the workshop and song to share online with each community.



When and where

November to December 2020. Cooktown, Mossman, Cloncurry, Barcaldine, Gladstone, Cherbourg. 


Key Stats

  • 1 Queensland First Nations artist employed
  • 1 Queensland arts worker employed
  • 8 workshops in six communities
  • 225 in-person attendees
  • 18,988 digital participants


Arts Queensland investment

$19,864 through Creative to Go program funding.

The Creative to Go program provides Queensland-based artists and arts organisations with support to deliver live performances and engagement activities in regional Queensland as part of the Queensland Government's $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package.




  • Presented COVID-safe workshops across remote regions of Queensland: Despite the need to remain agile as circumstances changed, Lorinda and her tour manager were able to successfully schedule and present live workshops to groups in six communities. Even in the best of times, live performances are rare. For many participants, this was the first touring arts engagement activity they had been involved in, even without COVID lockdowns. 
  • Employed and expanded the skillsets of artist and arts worker: Both Lorinda and her touring and stage manager, Kate, were employed through the Let’s Connect outreach program. The project allowed them both to gain valuable experience working with remote Indigenous communities as well as giving Lorinda greater exposure as a performer and speaker.

Learnings and reflections

Communities and artists feel better connected through ongoing arts engagement:

“The Let’s Connect tour was an incredible experience for me personally, but I also believe it had a strong impact on the communities we visited. I was able to see firsthand the hunger that these kids had for inspiration. I can say without a doubt that this project was successful in inspiring and impacting the kids in these communities and I hope to continue connecting with them and new groups over the coming years.” Lorinda May Merrypor, Artist

Delivering inspiration and live performance drives positive community growth:

“I have travelled further north than I have ever ventured in Australia, been welcomed into Indigenous communities, who have opened up and shared with us the difficulties they face in capturing the attention of their youth, and steering them in the right direction. However, I have also seen the children singing along with Lorinda, dancing with her, and truly believe we have delivered a small amount of hope to the people we met, especially the children.” Kate Mulcahy, Tour Manager

Remain adaptable to changing circumstances, restrictions and weather conditions:

“The combination of the unexpected change in school closing dates in regional areas plus certain locations coming out of COVID lockdowns affected the project as many families had left the regions before we arrived. 
Torrential rain in Mossman was also problematic. Moving forward, we would in future guarantee workshops were only scheduled well within school terms and not as late in the school year when the weather is less unpredictable.”

Manage expectations and provide greater business support, where necessary, to ensure the overall success of the program:

“Whilst the tour coordinator supported marketing for the tour, the actual presenters were responsible for their own actual presentation’s promotion and audience actualisation/maximisation. Results demonstrated that this capability for promotional success varied in degrees from presenter to presenter. 

For future projects of this type, touring to regional and remote Aboriginal Communities, the tour coordinator will take an additional proactive role and support even further these presenters (including those who lack marketing resources) in the promotion of the product locally, to ensure larger physical attendance numbers. This will start from the initial scheduling of the tour.”




The content was perfect. Lorinda engaged children from the age of 4 all of the way up to the Mayor!

As the workshop continued more children arrived to join it. Everyone was laughing and dancing and singing. Every child that wanted to perform was given the chance and encouragement from Lorinda, this included one of our young 8 year old boys who got up and performed a traditional indigenous dance that captivated all. 

Many of the children are still talking about the event and singing the songs. Such a happy uplifting event. Lorinda was so generous with her time and her workshop content has inspired many. 

She also provided much excitement for Tara our wonderful young 16 year old radio presenter when Lorinda agreed to a live interview during the workshop. Lorinda also went to our local radio station (94.1 FM) and did an interview live on air, she was so professional and engaging. We would love her to come back any time!! 

Lorinda then left our complex and went on to provide an acoustic concert of Christmas Carols for the Ny-Ku Byun Elders Village with more than 30 people present. 

Everyone was completely engaged and when Lorinda sang Silent Night several residents shed a tear – they were very moved. Thanks from Paul at Ny-Ku for thinking of them and providing such a special event for the residents.” - Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council, Cherbourg. 

The Session was fantastic! It would be great to host during the school term as it is easier to engage the kids then. Lorinda was friendly, fun and engaging. The girls who attended seemed to really enjoy it and get involved - stuck around at the end for photos! I would gladly host at PCYC again! – PCYC, Cloncurry. 

Lorinda was able to quickly access the make-up of the students involved and adapted her workshop accordingly. 

As this was the first such workshop experience for most of the students, Lorinda’s positive force, performance and ‘can-do’ approach was mesmerising and at times challenging. 

Further, how Lorinda adapted to the much delayed start was excellent. They enjoyed it, as the photographs attest. Lorinda added moves to her song and this, then collective movement, was a line group, which overcame the challenge of standing and singing (as most of the students have not seen musical theatre or live performances, with all such efforts this COVID year with away trips being fruitless). 

Such a high- quality workshop being delivered to suit the school’s time-table, we were so lucky. And it certainly made the students feel special. 

Lorinda’s level of professionalism, adaptability, beautiful voice and depth and breadth of musicality (in such a young performer) was amazing and truly inspirational. 

How Lorinda lived the ‘let’s connect’ message by going swimming with the students prior to the workshop was laudable, and confirmation of her holistic and sincere approach to improving life’s chances for remote-living indigenous youth. 

As with all such workshops and performances out of the ease of established venues, aptitude for perception, adaptivity, quick response and solutions, joy in the moment and simply getting on and doing what needs to be done, then and there, is essential for such travelling workshops and interfacing with remote and indigenous communities. Lorinda May Merrypor has all of these in spades, so thank-you.” Silver Lining School, Barcaldine. 

“It was a wonderful afternoon. Lorinda’s voice is amazing. It was a hard time of year here as with school holidays often families leave town for Cairns, or camping. So our numbers were less than we had predicted. If Lorinda was to come back though, it would be a much bigger audience.” Gungarde Community Centre Aboriginal Corporation, Cooktown. 


Tips for others

One of the most important things when touring is not only being very well prepared but also being able to pivot and be flexible in changing circumstances. This was the case in this tour, for example, when weather interfered with the live performance. From this a new opportunity to look at digital platforms opportunities emerged and has now become a fixture for future Queensland touring with Lorinda. Tour Coordinator HIT Productions 



What next?

Following the tour, all six presenters asked to be kept informed about future workshops and a potential live concert in 2021. This, together with the strong relationships Lorinda and HIT forged with each of the Aboriginal Corporations, has opened new possibilities for potential touring opportunities in future. 


Find out more

Hit Productions website

Hit Facebook

Lorinda May Merrypor Facebook