Another Powerful NAIDOC Week program at Arts Centre Melbourne

Parrwang Lifts the Sky. Photo by Mel Serjeant


Arts Centre Melbourne

Arts Centre Melbourne proudly continues its work with First Nations artists and communities in celebrating their storied culture, country and resilience. This NAIDOC Week, they will be hosting a variety of exciting events across their venues from 2 – 9 July.


NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The 2023 NAIDOC Week theme For Our Elders is a powerful tribute to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders – the cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors, leaders, hard workers and loved ones.

“NAIDOC Week is always a very significant moment in the calendar, and none more-so than this year, as we honour the legacies of our Elders. They are a constant source of wisdom as we look to a future where the diversity of our community is reflected in the performing arts, both on and beyond the stage. Arts Centre Melbourne’s commitment to reconciliation and truth-telling is reflected in this year’s NAIDOC Week program and we encourage all Victorians to come and immerse themselves in one of our many offerings,” said Arts Centre Melbourne Executive Director, First Nations, Equity and Inclusion Troy Walsh.

Across the week, Arts Centre Melbourne’s NAIDOC Week program will span visual arts, music, theatre, and  Australian Performing Arts Collection. As an ongoing offering, PAWA Café & Bar has an array of delicious delicacies which include native ingredients across an ever-changing menu. Dine indoors or out, overlooking the Yarra and enjoy spectacular views of Melbourne, or simply enjoy takeaway to bring to your favourite picnic spot.

From 7 June – 9 July, a newly commissioned large-scale digital projection titled Spirits Of The Land will see Hamer Hall’s iconic facade illuminated once more. As part of the Electric series and in collaboration with artist Aunty Zeta Thomson – a respected Elder and descendant of the Yorta Yorta and Wurundjeri people – the projection is inspired by family stories including the Yorta Yorta creation story.

Officially kicking off NAIDOC Week on Sunday 2 July is a big day of activity across our venues. For its second year in a row, the NAIDOC Week Sunday Market will proudly, and exclusively, feature traders of First Nations background. Located along St Kilda Road between Hamer Hall and Arts Centre Melbourne’s iconic Spire, all are welcome to attend the market and pick up some locally designed and crafted items to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2023.

PAWA Café & Bar

For those curious to expand their knowledge of First Nations artwork, there will be two FREE guided tours in Hamer Hall on Sunday 2 July at 12:00pm and 1:30pm. The NAIDOC Week Performing Arts Display Tour will feature commissioned Indigenous artworks and items from the Australian Performing Arts Collection from artists like Simone Thomson and Iluka Sax-Williams. Curator Ian Jackson will lead the tours and be joined by Troy Walsh.

Then across two shows, Hamer Hall will see outstanding Australian vocalists Emma Donovan, Montaigne, Thandi Phoenix, Thndo and Ursula Yovich take to the stage in an unforgettable performance of music and memories honouring the legacy of the global superstar Aretha Franklin in Aretha.

From 5 – 6 July, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO), Arts Centre Melbourne and the Archie Roach Foundation in association with Short Black Opera Company and Melbourne International Film Festival will showcase two evenings of powerful song and sublime storytelling in One Song – The Music of Archie Roach. One Song brings First Nations voices to the Hamer Hall stage to perform seminal songs such as ‘Took the Children Away’, ‘Jamu Dreaming’ and ‘Weeping in the Forest’, with the full backing of the MSO.

Then on Friday 7 July, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Arts Centre Melbourne and the Archie Roach Foundation in association with Melbourne International Film Festival will present Wash My Soul in the River’s Flow, a cinematic reinvention of a legendary concert that premiered in 2004. Using footage combining conversations, rehearsals, and the opening night, with breathtaking images of Ruby Hunter’s Ngarrindjeri Country in South Australia, the film is a portrait of artists at the peak of their powers and a profoundly moving story of loss, love and what it means to truly come ‘home’.

Over two epic nights, Short Black Opera’s Parrwang Lifts the Sky will have its world premiere from 7 – 8 July in what is a Dreamtime story for all ages created by acclaimed Yorta Yorta/Yuin soprano, composer and artistic director Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO. Parrwang the Magpie is the hero in this joyful, family-friendly opera which is based on an original story from Wadawurrung Country told to the children of the Wathaurong by community Elder, the late Uncle David Tournier.

To close out NAIDOC Week at Arts Centre Melbourne, on Saturday 8 July award-winning electronic music duo Electric Fields will return to Hamer Hall for a special encore performance that’s guaranteed to get the audience to their feet for the second year running. Electric Fields x MSO will perform the duo’s work and traditional inma songs with their music arranged especially for this performance by Alex Turley, MSO’s 2022 Cybec Young Composer in Residence.

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