Storytelling has always been the heart of teaching and music for Lucas Proudfoot.

A Bundjalung man, he grew up playing music with friends and in bands. When he had kids of his own, he was inspired to start his program Circular Rhythm, which teaches school-aged children about contemporary music and culture.

And now he’s ready to take his passion to new heights.

Mr Proudfoot is one of seven First Nations artists and organisations who will share in almost $400,000 of funding as part of the Queensland State Government’s First Nations Commissioning Fund.

Queensland Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch said the First Nations Commissioning Fund supported Indigenous arts and cultural experiences.

“This fund further develops connections for future generations, creates employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and arts workers, and enables Queenslanders to experience and engage in diverse works by First Nations artists,” she said.

For Proudfoot, this is a chance to continue sharing Indigenous culture with kids.

“We had these really inspirational role models in our community who said if you understand your culture and where you come from, you can build a really strong foundation,” he said.

“And I still get that same feeling I did when I first did dance with my mates and the boys and girls of our community.

“But that’s what it’s all about, getting kids up and letting them know how diverse our country is.

“We share a lot of things and that’s diversity and that comes whether it’s the land that we’re on, the country, the surroundings and everyone’s completely different.”

Proudfoot’s shows Circular Rhythm and The Proud Foots are performances grounded in music, culture and most importantly storytelling.

Telling his story is a big part of how Proudfoot connects with people through his performances.

“Growing up my mum was in a family of 13, across the road there was 17 in the family and then next to them were our cousins, I think they had 15 kids running around,” he said.

“So we’re just surrounded by stories you know. And then all the crew would come over and it’d be music and everyone would be having the best time and the big fire pit and you hear a lot of stories.

“But I’ve always used my upbringing as my inspiration for stories but you find common ground straightaway whether it’s with the kids, teachers or parents, it’s always a talking point after the show.”

As for what he’ll be doing with the funding, he’s hoping to take Proudfoot and Friends to a national scale.

“We’ve got quite an ambitious project which allows us to start working with Queensland based technology companies and attract key creatives in the industry and just be engaged with the arts sector,” he said.

Receiving the funding opens up a whole other round of conversations and that allows us to keep developing the project and we’re developing the theatre side of things.

“We’ve got a really good plan in place and the people that we’ve got involved already, it’s exciting.”

Proudfoot hopes that this is just the beginning for the arts sector to begin recovering after a grueling few years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Storytellers, whether it’s on screen, on stage, in small base venues, are some of the most qualified to be able to tell what’s going on over the last couple of years,” he said.

“Through story and film, we get to learn abut a certain point in time. I think that’s the way people can bring back hope.

“I think there’s going to be a real thirst for us to tell those stories and to keep connecting with our audiences.”

Proudfoot hopes to announce shows in Queensland and the rest of Australia sometime this year.