CLANCESTRY, A Celebration of Country is an annual festival celebrating the arts and cultural practices of the world’s First Nations Peoples with a particular focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Awarded a Queensland Reconciliation Award for the inaugural event in 2013, it is a community festival produced by Queensland Performing Arts Centre with advice and counsel from elders and community leaders.

QPAC’s program associate director Deborah Murphy said a full festival with multiple curators is an important cultural initiative.

“We have had a long relationship with a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, including 25 years with Bangarra and a number of years with the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts, but each relationship stood on its own and so we wanted to coordinate something bigger,” she said.


Like Mardi Gras and Midsumma are to the LGBTI community, so too is Clancestry becoming with the first Australians.

Misdumma and Mardi Gras are designed to represent the diverse parts of the LGTBTI community, even specific or boutique parts.

According to Murphy, this would not be possible in a usual commercial model with Clancestry – as was the case with both Mardi Gras and Midsumma – as they relied heavily on community support.

“A festival like Clancestry needs the support of government agencies and community groups and commercial sponsors,” she explained.

Clancestry is produced by QPAC, as the curator and event manager to help back this indigenous culture festival and is also supported by a long list of backers, according to organisers, along with some grants and community group assistance.

Murphy explained: “We have a fantastic relationship with Arts Queensland through their backing of indigenous arts. We also have a range of other partners on board both in-kind and cash that without them it would not be possible.”

Last year was the first Clancestry and the lessons were clear to Murphy.

“Coming out of Clancestry 2013, what became really clear was that it was able to serve three purposes. The first is cultural preservation, the second building pride in our nation’s first people and also building capacity,” she said.

“I think the great thing about it is the community are behind it and are coming to us with great ideas.”


Murphy highlighted that some community cultural groups were performing in their own areas and for their own community, and this was being curated by Nancy Bamaga.

“There are some special moments – with up to 17 artists the history of ATSI music from the 1920’s to today. I am expecting about 300 or 400 artists over the weekend,” she said.

“The closing event is being put together by Fred Leone. This weekend has been said to be a modern-day corrobaree.”

In response to any similarities between the efforts to make a displaced community feel proud and connected, and struggles in the LGBTI community, Murphy said it was all about pride within the community and all of the community: “I will leave the politics out of this, but this is about building pride in your community.”

Clancestry is on at QPAC at Southbank, Brisbane from Febraury 18 – 23. Programming information can be found here.



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