*Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised the following media release contains the name of someone who has passed. The family of Ningali Lawford-Wolf have given permission to use her name.
In a massive coup for the arts in Queensland, Bangarra Dance Theatre’s eagerly awaited season of SandSong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert will go ahead as planned in Brisbane, thanks to additional support from the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and the Palaszczuk Government.
Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said Bangarra Dance Theatre’s season has been secured with the support of the Palaszczuk Government as part of the state’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan to re-build the arts sector.
“Once again, Queensland is the winner,” Minister Enoch said.
“In addition to a 2021 Brisbane season, there is an exciting commitment to community engagements in Cairns in 2022.
“Our Government quickly responded to the needs of the Arts sector during COVID-19, and securing this season is only possible thanks to Queensland’s positive health response.
“Necessary COVID measures had cast a shadow on the Brisbane season of SandSong, however the investment and support from the Palaszczuk Government, QPAC and additional assistance from the Federal Government through the Australia Council, will ensure audiences can still experience the gift of Bangarra’s story telling.
“Bangarra’s Brisbane season was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, so it was a priority to ensure Bangarra could perform in Brisbane in 2021, with the company continuing on to perform in Melbourne as planned.
“At a time when so many of our theatres nationally are empty, I know Queensland audiences will appreciate the incredible privilege of being able to appreciate this sensational season.”
Minister Enoch said Bangarra Dance Theatre was Australia’s leading contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance company, with deep and enduring connections to Queensland including annual seasons at QPAC.
“Bangarra and QPAC have forged a close relationship as presenting partners for 23 years and I am delighted to support an even greater engagement in Queensland for Bangarra, both onstage and off,” Minister Enoch said.
“Our investment will also support Bangarra to connect with schools, communities and local dance groups in Brisbane and Cairns next year to share knowledge and develop skills.
“Elevating First Nations is a key priority of the Queensland Government’s Creative Together 2020 – 2030 Roadmap, and Bangarra’s activities in Queensland will help to build a foundation from which they can build and return, further connecting our state to this national treasure,” Ms Enoch said.
“The arts are key to delivering our Government’s plan for economic recovery from COVID-19, each year contributing $8.5 billion into the state’s economy and supporting more than 92,000 jobs for Queenslanders.” Ms Enoch said.
QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas said the organisation was grateful for the Queensland Government and Australia Council’s support, to ensure Bangarra’s sold-out 2021 season would continue. “We were devastated we had to postpone SandSong last year, and I want to publicly thank the Queensland Government and Federal Government for recognising both the importance of Bangarra as an Australian voice, and this work as a profound tribute to Ningali Lawford-Wolf and her Country,” Mr Kotzas said.
“SandSong was critically acclaimed at its world premiere in Sydney, and I am elated Queensland audiences will still be able to experience the majesty of Bangarra in a couple of weeks.”
Adrian Collette AM, CEO of the Australia Council said, “At a time when our connection to each other and our community has been so disrupted by COVID-19, I am delighted that along with our Queensland Government partners we can support Bangarra’s Queensland season so they can share the stories, culture and perspectives of our First Nations people, on stage as well as through their engagement with schools and local communities.”
Bangarra Executive Director Lissa Twomey said, “After the cancellation of our 2020 National Tour, we are thrilled that we can, with the support of the Queensland and Federal Governments, continue to engage and share our stories with Queensland audiences.
“The company left no stone unturned in finding a way to keep the ‘show on the road’ whilst complying with COVID restrictions,” Ms Twomey said.
SandSong is a journey into ancient stories of the Kimberley region framed against the backdrop of ever-changing government policy and of the survival of people determined to hold strong to their Culture.
SandSong was created by Bangarra Dance Theatre in consultation with Wangkatjunga/Walmajarri Elders from the Kimberley and Great Sandy Desert regions. It is choreographed by Artistic Director Stephen Page and Associate Artistic Director Frances Rings and draws on the stories, knowledge and memories of the past to create a new narrative for our Indigenous futures.
Bangarra Artistic Director, Stephen Page, was born in Brisbane and is a descendant of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from south east Queensland.
Due to the timing of travel and 14-day quarantine requirements for the Bangarra company, the Brisbane season will be shorter than originally planned. As the season is already sold out, all ticketholders for the original first three performances (13 and 14 August) will be fully refunded. Ticketholders will be contacted directly by QPAC.
SandSong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert will be presented at QPAC’s Playhouse from 16 to 21 August 2021.