Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s (QPAC) Clancestry festival, a celebration of First Nations arts and culture across an exciting program of concerts, workshops, theatre and children’s events, will open from 8 to 12 November 2023.
Clancestry is an event for community to come together to create, connect, and share. The festival is proudly programmed, curated and run by Australian First Nations Peoples, supporting more than a hundred First Nations artists every year. This year marks the 10th anniversary since the first Clancestry festival at QPAC in 2013.
Clancestry’s official opening event will be on Thursday 9 November with First Gathering – a celebration of the vibrant First Nations cultures of Brisbane. This occasion invites audiences to honour the ancestral history of the land, pay tribute to its spirits, and commemorate its enduring legacy. The event's hour-long program will encompass a captivating array of dances, songs, and cultural expressions, offering a profound connection to the heritage of the land and its people.
QPAC’s Concert Hall will host two distinctive music events as part of Clancestry – William Barton: Sky Songs on Thursday 9 November and the moving and contemplative Song Circle on Saturday 11 November.
In Sky Songs, didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton will transport the audience to a sonic world, transcending time and space in this special performance. Joined by song woman and wordsmith Aunty Delmae Barton, composer and violin virtuoso Véronique Serret, Australian music legend Iva Davies and surrounded by the symphonic landscape of John Foreman’s magnificent 45-piece Australian Pops Orchestra, Barton’s powerful music journeys from the deep past to the future, the majestic Australian landscape to the almost unimaginable wonders of the cosmos.
Song Circle will see five incredible artists – Shane Howard, Troy Cassar-Daley, Dan Sultan, Neil Murray and Sara Storer – on stage together sharing stories and songs. After the loss of his mother, Cassar-Daley was inspired to create this production after being with family for Sorry Business. Cassar-Daley recalls those times at home when the guitar is brought out, a fire is made, and songs and stories make their way around the circle, like the thread that binds together. This performance will showcase the many genres of music and generations that sit together and share tunes that connect us all.
Emily Wells’ poignant theatre work Face to Face will take to the Cremorne Theatre stage from 8 to 12 November. Face to Face is an intimate drama about two women navigating the complex effects of disconnecting from Country, and the criticism from Community, family, and above all, oneself. Making its premiere at Metro Arts in March 2022, the Clancestry Face to Face season will see new casting and direction. This production was originally developed as part of QPAC’s Sparks playwriting program in 2019 in partnership with Playlab Theatre.
A raft of free events will be held at the new Festival Ground site on the South Bank Cultural Forecourt near the Brisbane sign across the week. The Festival Ground will come alive as the sun goes down with the sounds of deadly First Nations music on the Mob Music Stage from The Andrew Gurruwiwi Band, J-MILLA, Cloe Tarere, Tjaka, BIRDZ and Fred Leone and more bands to be announced.
The Festival Ground will also host afternoon weaving workshops on 11 and 12 November, immersing participants in the regeneration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices using recycled materials.
Bubs and Cuzzies will welcome big and little kids alike during the day with arts, crafts, face painting and performances. The heartwarming children’s theatre show BIRMBA by Merindi Schreiber will feature in the Festival Ground from 10 to 12 November along with Ngamumu arts and cultural space led by global Indigenous artists Johannah Maza and Lia Pa’apa’ from 11 to 12 November.
Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said that Queensland, as home to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, is uniquely positioned to showcase the diversity, richness and talent of First Nations artists and communities.
“Over the past decade QPAC’s Clancestry festival has been a vibrant celebration of First Nations arts and cultures at Queensland’s premier performing arts venue,” Minister Enoch said.
“Clancestry 2023 will present the work of emerging and acclaimed First Nations performing artists while inviting locals and visitors to engage with powerful storytelling, cultural knowledge, and hands-on activities.
"As we continue on the Path to Treaty, events such as these support the important work towards truth-telling, understanding, and healing. Clancestry also delivers on the Queensland Government’s 10-year strategy Creative Together 2020-2030 which aims to elevate First Nations arts and ensure a strong and sustainable sector as we look to the opportunities offered by the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas celebrated the return of Clancestry for its 10th anniversary since the first event and highlighted the importance of the festival’s presence both on QPAC’s stages and in public spaces with the Festival Ground.
"QPAC has a key role to play in supporting and promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and we’re wholeheartedly committed to showcasing First Nations artists, arts workers and organisations in Clancestry 2023,” Kotzas said.
"The Country on which QPAC is located has long been a place of meeting, storytelling, dancing and connecting, well before our building was here. Clancestry acknowledges that rich cultural heritage encouraging communities to come together to celebrate, learn and connect through all facets of the performing arts.
“Clancestry’s diverse program has something for everyone – music, theatre, arts, crafts, collaboration – in this week-long celebration of Queensland’s First Nations Peoples and Culture.”