Brisbane Festival program spotlights First Nations-led performances and artists

6 Aug

Media Release
Brisbane Festival program spotlights First Nations-led performances and artists

The Festival’s largest First Nations program will be presented as part of this year’s Brisbane Festival from 3 – 25 September.

The program celebrates Queensland and Australian talent across all genres from live music and dance to visual art and fashion and includes several premiere performances.

Brisbane Festival Indigenous Advisory Group chair Michelle Tuahine said this showcase would spotlight unique and untold stories.

“This year, 168 First Nations artisans, performers and creatives share their intensely personal narratives through ceremony, smoke, songline and performance,” Ms Tuahine said.

We look forward to sharing our world with you.

The Festival commences with Jumoo, a smoking ceremony at new South Bank hub, BOQ Festival Garden, on 3 September.

Led by Yuggera and Turrbal man Shannon Ruska, Jumoo connects Brisbane Festival and its visitors to Country and cleanses the pathway for a peaceful journey into September.

South Bank Piazza hosts the runway event of the year as First Nations Fashion: Walking In Two Worlds hits the catwalk on 5 September.

Commissioned by Brisbane Festival and created by multicultural Australian artist Grace Lillian Lee, Walking in Two Worlds melds contemporary garments and textiles by First Nations designers, dance, film and live music in an evocative cultural celebration.

Storytelling and live music combine in Heart is a Wasteland, a cross-country, whisky-fuelled love story playing QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre from 15 – 18 September.

Reimagined by ILBIJERRI Theatre Company Artistic Director Rachael Maza, the powerful piece cuts to the country’s heart as it examines an individual’s right to love.

Wiradjuri man Joel Bray takes audiences on a flirty and passionate look at sensuality in Considerable Sexual License at The Block, QUT Kelvin Grove from 10 – 15 September.

The provocative Queensland premiere performance blends cabaret, comedy and choreography as it skewers conservative sexual politics.

Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina thanked the Indigenous Advisory Group and First Nations curators, Merindah Donnelly (dance) and Alethea Beetson (music) for shaping and guiding the delivery the Festival’s First Nations program.

“Community and celebration live at the very heart of this year’s Brightly Brisbane program,” Ms Bezzina said.

"Critical to the spirit of Brisbane Festival is a program where diverse voices have a platform to tell stories and share their culture in this grand celebration of connection and community."

Street Serenades, Brisbane’s biggest musical event, returns in 2021 with an expanded line-up of First Nations artists performing on travelling stages across the city including ELEEA, Shellie Morris, Lydia Fairhill, Delene Briscoe, Beddy Rays, AYA J and more to be announced.

The Tivoli is home to a First Nations-led program of music including the world premiere of Restless Dream on 19 September, a large-scale musical production with cinematic soundscapes and dance.

The new production is a collaboration between Kamilaroi elder Uncle Bob Weatherall, Brisbane band Halfway and Digi Youth Arts and telling the story Uncle Bob’s ongoing social justice work.

The iconic Brisbane music venue also hosts Blak Day Out on 10 September, curated by Ms Beetson and bringing together musicians including Alice Skye, dameeeela, DancingWater, DRMNGNOW, Mo’Ju, Selve, Shakaya, The Ancient Bloods and The Merindas to celebrate music and community.

Buŋgul, a celebration of the musical legacy of Gurrumul Yunupiŋu, makes its Queensland debut at QPAC’s Concert Hall from 24 – 25 September.

Yolŋu dancers and musicians from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University and Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra bring to life the songs, dances and paintings that informed Gurrumul’s album Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow).

Karul Project’s Weredingo entertains as it challenges what audiences think they know about shapeshifting in its world premiere season at Metro Arts from 3 – 11 September.

Brisbane Festival returns to fill the city with art, music and joy from 3 – 25 September 2021.

To view the full Brisbane Festival program and to buy tickets, visit 

For updates and announcements, follow Brisbane Festival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Brisbane Festival is proudly supported by Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland, and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.

All Brisbane Festival events comply with Queensland Health’s COVID Safe Events framework and health authority directions.

#Book events

First Nations Fashion: Walking In Two Worlds
Past Event
Restless Dream
Past Event
19 Sept

Restless Dream

The Tivoli

Buŋgul: the musical legacy of Gurrumul Yunupiŋu
Past Event
Past Event
3 - 11 Sept


Metro Arts

Brisbane Festival expresses deep respect to and acknowledges the First People of this Country.