A Time to Dream


A Time to Dream is a film about the visit of members of the Black Theatre to the first ever National Seminar on Aboriginal Arts, which had been sponsored by the Whitlam government.

The Seminar was held in Canberra from 21-25 May 1973. More than 200 people, including tribal elders and Maori, American Indian, Indian, African and New Guinean art and crafts experts attended the seminar which had been organised by the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australian Council for the Arts.[1]

The historical moments A Time to Dream preserves include Opera singer Harold Blair singing “Old Man River” and David Gulpilil dancing at a time when he was a world-renowned dancer.

It also contains a remarkable sequence where a passionate Brian Syron speaks his mind about people he regards as charlatans in Aboriginal arts circles. Syron had only recently returned from America having studied at the renowned Stella Adler’s Acting Studio in New York where his fellow classmates included Hollywood actors Robert De Niro and Peter Bogdanovich.

Time to Dream is an important filmic examination of the legends of the Aboriginal arts world of 1972, yet despite its historical significance it has had few public screenings since it was made.

There can be no qualification about my Government’s commitment to the cause of the Aboriginal people. — Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, opening address of the 1973 National Seminar on Aboriginal Arts [1]

Film clip

Kath Walker recites "Son of Mine" in a clip from Time to Dream.


Release dates
1974 - Australia
G - general

Lin Onus was sound recordist for Time To Dream and Blackfire.

The Aboriginal Arts Board recommended to the Prime Minister for approval the application for $3,300 for the "completion of [a] National Aboriginal Arts Seminar film by Bruce McGuinness". [1]

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[1] 'Aboriginal Arts Board Grants', New Dawn, March 1974, p.12
[2] 'National Seminar on Aboriginal Arts', New Dawn September 1973, p.1

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, A Time to Dream, <>, retrieved 12 August 2020

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