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Things to do this National Reconciliation Week

Be Brave. Make Change.

Sydney Opera House

National Reconciliation Week (27 May - 3 June) is bookended by the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and Mabo Day, two significant decisions that began positive change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – but there’s still so far to go. 

National Sorry Day is also marked on 26 May, this day remembers and acknowledges the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities, which we now know as ‘The Stolen Generations’.

National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, First Nations cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can listen and learn to create a new future that acknowledges the continued impacts of colonisation. The Opera House is proud to embrace and celebrate First Nations culture all year round through dynamic contemporary works on our stages and beyond. We've compiled a list of the free and paid activities you can do in and around the Opera House to celebrate and understand the perspectives of the world’s oldest living cultures.

1. Vivid LIVE

Lighting of the Sails, Yarrkalpa – Hunting Ground

When: 27 May - 18 June from 6pm
How much: Free. Plus, the global premiere will also be streamed live on Friday 27 May via the Opera House Facebook page and Stream

Two years in the making, the First Nations projection is a collaboration between the East Pilbara-based Martumili Artists and Sydney-based creative technologists Curiious, bringing to life the Parnngurr community and its surrounding landscape, with an accompanying soundtrack by Electric Fields’ Zaachariaha Fielding and Michael Ross featuring the vocals of the Martu Artists and the voices of Antara singers from Zaachariaha's Anangu community.

Thelma Plum

When? 27 – 31 May

Gamilaraay singer-songwriter and ARIA Award-winner Thelma Plum, whose smash hit ‘Better in Blak’ made history in 2020 as the highest-ranking song by an Indigenous artist in Triple J’s Hottest 100 at #9, will play the Northern Broadwalk with Australian rock royalty Paul Kelly, for four big nights under the stars.


Miiesha

When? 3 June

ARIA Award-winning Anangu/Torres Strait Islander artist Miiesha will perform her first solo headline performance at Sydney Opera House, delving deep into her personal stories through beautiful R&B and neo-soul soundscapes from her world-class 2020 breakout album Nyaaringu (meaning ‘what happened’ in Pitjantjatjara language).


Briggs, dameeeela & Barkaa

When? 3 - 4 June

Astral People’s 10+1 Birthday, taking place over two nights on the Northern Broadwalk on 3 – 4 June, will feature Australia’s premier First Nations MC Briggs, who has taken out ARIA and J Awards and was named NAIDOC Artist of the Year in 2018, and founded Australia’s first Indigenous-owned label Bad Apples; Malyangapa and Barkindji artist Barkaa, whose explosive debut EP Blak Matriarchy is a testament to the powerful Blak women of her past, present and future; and sets from dameeeela, who has manned the decks for thousands of festivals and toured with global heavy-hitters including A$AP Rocky, Anderson .Paak and Charli XCX.

“It takes real bravery to make change. Change is in no way easy. It is scary, for your physical and mental body wants you to stay in the familiar. We know the unfortunate ways of the world. We know that big change comes from standing up and speaking out against injustice. We think about what all of the people before us have done. I read that Aunty Audre once said ‘your silence will not protect you’. No change has been successful without a few radicals, don’t be afraid to be the loudest. I use this life wisely, I have more power than I think.”

- dameeeela

TRACES

When? 27 – 29 May

A voice-to-art experience by Ballardong Noongar, Nimunburr and Yawuru artist Kamsani Bin Salleh & Gunai writer Kirli Saunders that brings yarns to life, eliciting country

2. Bulnuruwanha (Taking Flight)

When: School performances: 31 May - 2 June. Public performances: 4-5 June.
Where: Centre for Creativity

The premiere season of a dance workshop and performance by Bangarra Dance Theatre artist, Emily Flannery, that explores the Wiradjuri dreaming stories of the magpie, willy wagtail, kookaburra and cockatoo for children 5+ and their families or school groups.

3. Aboriginal Perspectives of Bennelong Point: Guwanyi Walama

When: Sessions throughout the day Tuesday 31 May
How much: Free
Where: Digital tour for schools

FREE Digital Tour direct to school classrooms, where students can join our Indigenous tour guides for an interactive exploration of the Indigenous history of Tubowgule (Bennelong Point), the site on which Sydney Opera House sits.

4. On Country Warrang Knowing Ourselves in Time and Place

When: May - November
How much: $15 per student
Where: Centre for Creativity

For school groups this workshop is all about being on Country, the land around us and our place in it. Our Creative Learning workshop focusses on the location of the Opera House, knowing who we are in place and time.

5. Badu Gili

When: Daily, 7pm, 7.30pm, 8pm
How much: Free
Where: Bennelong East Sails – at the top of the Monumental Stairs

A free daily experience that explores First Nations stories in a spectacular six minute projection on the Opera House’s eastern Bennelong sails, created in collaboration with the Art Gallery of NSW. 

6. Art Gallery of NSW

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art guided tour

When: daily 11am
How much: Free

Meet at the tour sign near the information desk and register with the Art Gallery’s Indigenous staff for a tour of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art collection.

 

WARRANGU; River Story by DOBBY

When: 12 June, 7:30pm
How much: $35

In WARRANGU, music written and composed by DOBBY fills the Entrance Court of the Art Gallery of New South Wales with powerful orchestral sounds and energetic beats, while his voice – together with those of fellow knowledge holders – shares the plight of important NSW rivers. This moving and immersive story-telling performance reconnects us to Country.

7. Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

Aboriginal Bush Tucker Tour

When: Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday 11am - 12pm
How much: $30

Walk with a First Nations guide through the Botanic Gardens to learn more about Indigenous bush foods and how these foods were used traditionally and adapted to the modern plate and palate.

Aboriginal Harbour Heritage Tour

When: Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday 1pm - 2pm
How much: $30

Walk along the Sydney Harbour foreshore while listening to stories of Gadigal lifestyle, traditions, history and connection to country and community.

8. Australian Museum

Waranara Tours

When: Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays from 28 May: 11.30am, 1pm
How much: $35

Expand your understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures on this unique tour of objects from the Australian Museum's exhibitions, led by a First Nations guide.

 

Bayala Nura: Yarning Country

When: daily 10am - 5pm
How much: Free with general admission

Bayala Nura celebrates the vibrant, living diversity of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Yarning – sharing stories and songlines through talking, singing and dancing – is a traditional practice used to build connections and pass on cultural knowledge, and is still very much alive today.

 

Garrigarrang: Sea Country

When: daily 10am - 5pm
How much: Free with general admission

Garrigarrang explores the rich cultures and spiritual traditions of the Salt Water People who call sea country home. Learn how they managed to live sustainably and harmoniously for tens for thousands of years. Hear their stories of first contact with Europeans, and their ongoing struggle to preserve their living cultural identity.

9. Powerhouse Museum

Artist-led tour with Dean Cross and Emily McDaniel

When: 27 May, 1pm - 2pm
How much: Free

During these informal artist-led tours, visitors will gain insights into the artists’ works, collection objects, the exhibition development process and the ideas and stories woven through the Eucalyptusdom exhibition. 

10. City of Sydney

Caroma on Collins: National Reconciliation Week

When: 6pm, 2 June
How much: Free
Where: Online

Join us for this evening onsite at Caroma on Collins over a light supper as we look to opportunities as corporations and individuals to "Be Brave & Make Change" this National Reconciliation week.

 

Online talk with Rhys Paddick co-founder of Acknowledge This!

When: 10.30am, 3 June
How much: Free
Where: Online

Rhys Paddick is the co-founder of Acknowledge This! His work builds on his experience as an Aboriginal educator to facilitate robust and genuine conversations amongst friends, strangers, and everyone in between — to bring them along on the journey of change. Join Rhys as he walks through his personal journey, explaining how we can use our good intentions to integrate modern and traditional cultures to create a third culture: people culture.

 

Online NSW Leaders in Conversation – Unpacking the Uluru Statement

When: 10am, 31 May
How much: Free
Where: Online

The Parliament of NSW and Reconciliation NSW will co-present a livestreamed panel discussion unpacking the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The panel will discuss the present situation in NSW against the goals of the reconciliation movement and dialogues of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

11. Sydney Living Museum

First Nations speaker series in conversation with Dennis Golding

When: 6pm, 1 June
How much: Free
Where: The Mint, 10 Macquarie St, Sydney

Join artist Dennis Golding and Sydney Living Museums’ Head of First Nations Cultural Engagement Peter White as they discuss Golding’s ‘Cast in cast out’ series. ‘Cast in cast out‘ explores dispossession and colonial occupation and is inspired by his childhood on The Block, Redfern.

12. Coming soon...

Terrain

When: 9 - 25 June
How much: Standard tickets from $89 + bf
Where: Drama Theatre

Bangarra’s award-winning Terrain returns this year for a 10th Anniversary Tour of Australia. Choreographed by Frances Rings, Terrain is a breathtaking exploration of our largest salt lake. The nine-part performance evokes the power of body and land converging to bring spirit to place
 

“Bravery is inherent in everything that Bangarra does. Our purpose is to create change by telling our stories and bringing about better awareness of Indigenous people’s history, culture, and our relationship to Country. Our works are not just entertaining—they are thought provoking, educational, and shift people’s perspectives to better understand the experiences of Black Australia.”

- Frances Rings

 

In Conversation with Bangarra’s Frances Rings

When: 2pm, 19 June
How much: Standard tickets from $60 + bf
Where: Centre for Creativity

Join Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, Frances Rings, a descendent of the Kokatha Tribe, as she shares stories about the making and choreography of the award-winning Terrain, and learn about the powerful sense of connection to Country that inspired this landmark work.

The Opera House is now on our fifth Reconciliation Action Plan, and we’re committed to deepening our understanding of First Nations history, its continued impact and encouraging our community to understand, act, and speak respectfully about difficult issues. In October 2019 the Opera House committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals - the Global Goals are like a world-wide to-do list to create positive change around the pressing issues of our time, like #10 Reduced Inequalities.

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