The highly anticipated Sydney Festival will immerse the city in culture through its First Nations focused Blak Out program.
From Parramatta to Chippendale, the Festival will see 130 events between January 6 and 26. Festival goers can experience the COVID-safe event with the festival moving beyond the indoors and spilling into the streets.
After a difficult 2020, the Australian arts sector is rebuilding and ready to thrive in 2021.
“Sydney Festival 2021 is all about kick starting the Australian arts sector by injecting more than $6 million into the pockets of those who have done it tough,” said Sydney Festival artistic director Wesley Enoch.
“Over 1,000 artists, companies and venues have come together in a rare sign of solidarity to produce and promote an All Australian Made program that will showcase our country’s creative, cultural and artistic excellence.”
“Our internationally acclaimed, homegrown talent have found themselves grounded in 2020 but at Sydney Festival 2021 you can see how the very best of the world can be in your own backyard.”
NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin shared Enoch’s sentiments.
“I am absolutely delighted that Sydney Festival is going ahead this January. It is testament to Wesley’s programming vision and tenacity that he has managed to pull together an entirely Australian program — with the very best of Sydney artists, arts organisations and more coming together under the Sydney Festival banner,” he said.
The Festival’s Blak Out program brings forward the stories and voices of Indigenous Australia.
Mariw Minaral (Spiritual Patterns) – November 11 to January 31
A free event, Mariw Minaral is on show at the Australian National Maritime Museum. It features the work of Torres Strait Islander artist Alick Tipoti. The exhibition hosts work which features linocut printmaking, sculpture technique as well as featuring ancestral masks.
Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial – November 26 to February 3
Hosted by the Australian National Maritime Museum, Defying Empire is a free event which hosts 30 Indigenous contemporary artists. It commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and recognises the ongoing resilience and fight of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Tina Havelock Stevens: Thank You For Holding – January 6 to 24
On display at Carriageworks is award-winning artist Tina Havelock Steven’s single-channel video installation. Conceived in the midst of 2020 anxiety, the work highlights human nature through a range of mediums.
Burrawa BridgeClimb – January 8 to 24
Hosted by Sydney BridgeClimb, Burrawa will enable climbers to see the city through Indigenous eyes. Aboriginal storytellers will climb alongside tourists and share Dreaming stories and history about Sydney and its surrounds.
Sunshine Super Girl – January 8 to 17
The story of Wiradjrui woman, Evonne Goolagong is hitting the stage. The first Indigenous woman to win a Grand Slam, Goolagong’s story is directed by Andrea James and will show at Sydney Town Hall.
Heartland – January 15
Didgeridoo player William Barton and violinist Véronique Serret pull together contemporary and ancient sounds in collaboration with Aunty Delmae Barton’s poetry. The event will be hosted by the Seymour Centre.
Djillong Dumularra – January 15 to 26
Presented by Artspace, Djilong Dumularra features works from Wathaurung and Kulin artist Carol McGregor and Waanyi creative Judy Watson. The exhibition highlights the power of creating to stay connected to Country and culture, as well as build resistance and resilience.
Fractures and Frequencies – January 16 to April 17
Hosted by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Gallery, the exhibition shares the work of Quandamooka woman Megan Cope. Fractures and Frequencies explores listening practices and the extractive industry in Australia.
The Colour Line – January 16 to March 6
Hosted by UNSW Gallery, The Colour Line features work of Kamilaroi artist Archie Moore in dialogue with illustrations by African-American academic and activist W.E.B. Du Bois. Exploring concepts of identity, Moore uses the exhibition to reflect upon racism and its place within Australia.
Casey Donovan in Concert – January 18
Taking the City Recital Hall stage, Casey Donovan pairs with Music Director Daniel Edmonds to deliver a powerhouse performance. The evening will see Donovan take on the music of Eva Cassidy, Billy Joel, Beyoncé and Adele.
The Complication of Lyrebirds – January 20 to 23
Hosted by Campbelltown Arts Centre, the contemporary dance aims to dissect social expectations of Aboriginality through the story of the lyrebird. Lead artist Jasmin Sheppard draws upon historical documents such as the White Australia Policy in her creation.
Spirit: A Retrospective 2021 – January 20 to 24
Returning to the stage, Bangarra Dance Theatre brings an array of performances to a stage under the stars. The event invites audiences to connect with stories and Songlines from across the nation.
To Cook Cook or Not – January 25
Hosted by Sydney Town Hall, To Cook Cook or Not sees a collection of talented First Nations artists come together to debate fundamental questions about Australia’s past. The event is one-of-a-kind and is hosted in partnership with the Biennale of Sydney.
The Vigil – January 25
Taking place at Barangaroo Reserve The Vigil, in its third year, brings the audience together to experience an evening of reflection before Australia Day. A time to consider colonial legacies, The Vigil is a free event for all.
For more information on Blak Out, visit: https://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/blak-out.
By Rachael Knowles