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First Nations

At the Sydney Opera House

Celebrating the richness of the world’s oldest living cultures

Since time immemorial Tubowgule, the land on which the Opera House stands, has been a place of gathering and belonging. The Gadigal and Sydney basin clans would meet on the tidal island, dance, sing, feast, exchange knowledge and share stories. The Opera House carries on this legacy by embracing and celebrating the culture of Australia’s First Peoples and First Nations globally.


 

 

 

A Welcome To Country is a customary greeting that Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island people extend to visitors, who in turn agree to respect respect traditional laws and culture.


What's On

Click here to find out more about Sydney Opera House First Nations programming.

First Nations

Dance Rites

Nov 2020

Join us online for the heats and finals of the DANCE RITES competition as First Nations dancers from around Australia come together to share their cultural knowledge and compete to win.
Presented by an Aboriginal narrator, this interactive digital excursion will take students on a journey of discovery around the area now known as Bennelong Point from the Aboriginal perspective.

Letters to Cook | A podcast miniseries from Deadly Voices from the House

Listen to three searing messages to Captain Cook and the colonial legacy

It's been 250 years since the Endeavour landed. What do First Nations peoples have to say?


From Our House to Yours

Live broadcasts, archival footage, and premieres.

Starry night sky

WATCH NOW – First Nations

First Nations Arts Awards 2020

Celebrate the outstanding achievements of some of Australia’s most inspiring artists at the First Nations Arts Awards, presented by the Arts Council.

Man and woman talking on stage

WATCH NOW – First Nations

aabaakwad 2020 NIRIN

Tune in for this Indigenous led conversation on Indigenous art by those who create, curate and write about it. Keynote discussion led by aabaakwad founder Wanda Nanibush and Wiradjuri artist/scholar Brook Andrew.

Opera House sail lit with First Nations art

WATCH NOW – First Nations

Badu Gili - Celebrating First Nations Culture

Immerse yourself in First Nations storytelling that celebrates the rich history across Australia and Torres Strait Island illuminated on the eastern Bennelong sail.

WATCH NOW - First Nations

Dance Rites 2019

Australia’s annual First Nations dance competition returned bigger than ever in 2020, with more than 350 performers meeting on one of the world’s most spectacular outdoor stages, Bennelong Point. 

Bow and Arrow perform, clouded in yellow smoke

WATCH NOW – First Nations

Bow and Arrow (Live)

Eccentric electro soul duo, Bow and Arrow, bring their signature brand of energising, entertaining and fun live performance direct from the stage of the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

Julian Bel Bachir pictured holding instrument

WATCH NOW – First Nations

Julian Bel Bachir (Live)

Streamed live from the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Julian Bel Bachir's Sounds of Sahara will take you on a rhythmic odyssey of traditional Indigenous music from North-Western Africa with a modern take.

Dobbi on stage at Dance Rites gestival, wearing white baseball cap, singing into mic, yellow lens flair beneath them

WATCH NOW – First Nations

DOBBY (Premiere)

Rhyan Clapham, aka DOBBY, combines cultural stories and experiences to create rap that is powerful, contagious and unforgettable. Don't miss an electrifying performance from a proud Filipino and Aboriginal musician.

Dancer in multicolour gown

WATCH NOW – First Nations

Native Owned: An Evening with Indigenous Enterprise (Premiere)

Join us for an evening with Indigenous Enterprise as they take us on a journey through dance, story, discussion and music. These high energy performers blend traditional customs and culture in an unforgettable celebration of Native American and Canadian pow wow.

Illustration of three speakers standing in front of an empty theatre

WATCH NOW – First Nations

Institutional Change: The Noise We Should Be Making (Premiere)

For too long Australia’s First Nations communities have suffered from systemic racism, present across many societal sectors. So how do we encourage workplaces and institutions to embrace diversity and create change from within? Join us for this poignant conversation to learn how we can move forward together.

Ceremonial fire burning amid circle of people

WATCH NOW – First Nations

The Art of Sovereignty (Premiere)

How are status, diversity and authorship explored by today’s First Nations people? How does it affect the way communities practice and express themselves through art? Join us for this discussion about the effects of modern sovereignty and its articulation through various art forms.

Young Indigenous girl holds mic, singing, pointing upwards

WATCH NOW – First Nations

Spinifex Gum (Premiere)

Celebrate the passion and talent of our youth with the powerful voices of young Indigenous women from Gondwana Choirs with The Cat Empire’s Felix Riebl and special guests Emma Donovan, Peter Garrett and Briggs.

Career Development Opportunities 

The Sydney Opera House is committed to providing hands-on experiences to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, which can lead to employment opportunities.

For further information about these career opportunities, please contact workexperience@sydneyoperahouse.com.

"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be great and learn more about our culture at the Opera House.

Courtney, Work Experience Program participant, FY17

Read, Watch, Listen

A guide to Dance Rites

Your handbook for the song and dance of Australia's ancient cultures

Listen to Deadly Voices from the House - Podcast

A podcast that takes intimate interviews with First Nations artists and leaders to the world. Hosted by Rhoda Roberts AO.

Eternal history: The story of First Nations theatre at the Sydney Opera House

Liza-Mare Syron traces the history of First Nations theatre at the Sydney Opera House back to the buildings very first days.

The story of Badu Gili

Meet the Indigenous artists bringing First Nations cultures to the world.

An Asian, an Aboriginal and an Islander take on white Australia in Nakkiah Lui's new play

In the new satire from Nakkiah Lui, Michelle Lim Davidson disarms audiences with humour to check their own racism.

Zaachariaha Fielding - It's A Long Story podcast

Crossing genres like soul, pop and electronica, Electric Fields has led Zaachariaha to massive stages all around Australia and the world, and in 2017 they scored Best New Talent at the NIMA Awards.

A letter from Rhoda Roberts to Dance Rites participants

Rhoda Roberts, Head of First Nations programming, welcomes participants and audiences to DANCE RITES 2020 from across Australia as we acknowledge the diverse ancestral lands, waterways and Sky country.

How the Sydney Olympics amplified First Nations voices on and off the track

Cathy Freeman’s win was a historic triumph, but it wasn't the only watershed moment at the Sydney Olympics. Hear from the Opera House's Rhoda Roberts, who played a critical role behind the scenes of the 2000 games.

Donate

The Opera House is committed to providing educational, professional development and cultural opportunities for First Nations communities. Whether through work experience, curated performances, such as the annual Dance Rites festival, or the daily lighting of the sails, the generous contributions of our visitors and friends allows us to create a positive impact in the lives of our communities.

Giving a gift today helps foster and celebrate a shared sense of belonging for all Australians. See how you can create change here.
 

Reconciliation Action Plan

The Opera House is committed to respecting, embracing and celebrating the culture of Australia’s First People. Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) outlines this commitment through a range of actions and initiatives that are being undertaken across all areas of the Opera House. These initiatives aim to safeguard the traditions of the world’s oldest living culture, and provide opportunities for Australia’s First People. Visit our Reconciliation Action Plan here

If you’d like to learn more about Reconciliation Australia’s RAP program, you can do so here or access the Share Our Pride tool to help you start your cultural awareness journey.