Brisbane Festival reveals 2020 program

Brisbane-Festival-2020-The-Coming-Back-Out-Ball-photo-by-Bryony-JacksonWith a joyous and uplifting program spanning giant outdoor installations, intimate street concerts, suburban symphonies and an epic new light and laser installation, the debut Brisbane Festival program from Artistic Director Louise Bezzina will bring the unexpected and the delightful to Brisbane from 4 – 26 September, reaching all 190 suburbs of the city with a line-up unlike any presented before.

Unveiling her “Boldly Brisbane” program, Ms Bezzina said the three-week Festival was meticulously curated to bring personal and human connection back to everyday life. “Programming this year’s Festival was a bumpy ride but one that allowed us to stretch our imagination, redefine the expectations and experiences of an international arts festival and really shine a light on the rich seam of exceptional talent running through this city and this state,” she said.

“The 2020 program was swiftly and carefully curated and created within the span of 3 months as the world changed in line with our new norm of COVID-19 restrictions,” said Ms Bezzina. Brisbane Festival will employ the largest number of Queensland artists in our history to help deliver a truly local Festival that will revitalise and uplift our city.”

The Festival will reawaken Brisbane with 490 performances across 91 events – 73 of which are free – to bring joy and hope to every corner of the city. There are 28 new works commissioned especially for Brisbane Festival 2020 and over 700 local artists will be employed, bolstering an industry that was decimated by COVID-19.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said she was looking forward to a very special Brisbane Festival 2020. “Brisbane Festival is full of innovative and exciting productions that will lift our spirits and see local artists connect with audiences once again through COVID-safe arts experiences,” said Minister Enoch.

“The Palaszczuk Government’s investment in Brisbane Festival will continue to drive our plan for economic recovery as well as support the arts and creative sector. This year, we are also investing in the exciting new Working Title program, supporting 10 Queensland creative teams to develop and present new performance works for the festival.”

The 2020 Brisbane Festival begins with Jumoo – a city-wide smoking ceremony led by Yuggera and Turrbal man Shannon Ruska. A time to reset, refocus and cleanse, this event will honour and pay respect to the First People of Brisbane, who have occupied this country for more than 65,000 years.

Messengers of Brisbane is a large-scale art project by Dutch visionary Florentijn Hofman and brought to life by Brisbane’s Urban Art Projects, featuring six giant installations inspired by the native Gouldian Finch. For three weeks, the flock of Festival guardians will watch over the city from rooftops of iconic Brisbane buildings, offering visual beacons of hope to the people of Brisbane and beyond.

Also beaming from more than a dozen rooftops across Brisbane is Sunsuper Night Sky – a new laser, light and sound installation from internationally-acclaimed audio-visual artist Robin Fox, viewable from hundreds of vantage points across the city on Friday and Saturday nights across the Festival.

Audiences are welcomed back to QPAC from 3 – 12 September to witness Leviathan – a staggering new work of scope, scale and ambition by trailblazing Queensland performance company Circa. A cast of 36 acrobats, dancers and performers defy gravity as they propel themselves across the stage in a Queensland premiere production that offers hope in these complex times.

There will be dancing in the street with All You Need is Love; brass band flash-mobs performing across the city on opening weekend, and Street Serenades; the biggest concert in Brisbane’s history, deconstructed and delivered to each of the city’s 190 suburbs in the form of neighbourhood concerts, suburban symphonies and park performances.

Hot Mess Mama is one such cul-de-sac cabaret, created specifically for this year’s Festival by Brisbane singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emma Dean and performed live with a five-piece band.

Ms Bezzina said the Festival’s massive free program of more than 70 events would bring the arts directly to the streets of Brisbane to surprise and delight culture vultures and newcomers alike. Polytoxic physical theatre company presents Snapshot – a time capsule of “now” combining film, sound and live performance at Brisbane Powerhouse, while Common People Dance Eisteddfod returns with a killer ‘80s soundtrack and four teams representing Brisbane’s north, south, east and west.

Exercise Surprises will brighten outdoor walks and workouts with pop-up performances along footpaths, running tracks and bikeways, ranging from Dead Puppet Society’s Megafauna to stilt-walkers and unicyclists, to flash-mob cheer squads. Submissions from children about the everyday places they wanted to visit during COVID-19 restrictions will be turned into bedtime stories and released digitally throughout the Festival as part of Wishful Bedtime Stories.

South Bank will hum with activity, hosting Neridah Waters’ Socially Distanced Dance Club; performances by Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra at River Quay; and Arc, an immersive outdoor dance theatre work at River Quay by Australasian Dance Collective. Composer and artist Lawrence English will collaborate with musicians to curate sound installations and performances at South Bank, The Old Museum and across the city.

Brisbane Powerhouse returns as a key Festival hub, hosting The Good Room’s One Bottle Later, Karul Projects’ Silence and Imaginary Theatre Company and Punchdrunk’s Lost Lending Library.

In a spectacular housewarming, Metro Arts will throw open the doors to its new West Village home and welcome Hiromi Tango’s Brainbow Magic and Rainbow Circles installations, Counterpilot’s Avoidable Perils, The Farm’s Cowboy, Writers Republic’s How to Spell LoveThe Type by Pink Matter, Future Ancestors by Voices of Colour, Digi Youth Arts and Conscious Mic and exhibitions by artists Robert Andrew and Sally Golding.

Sprinkling extra magic through the city are Katie Noonan reimagining classic ‘80s songs in The Sweetest Taboo at The Tivoli, The Farm bringing Throttle – it’s part-dance, part-thriller, part-drive-in movie experience – to Brisbane Showgrounds, and All the Queens Men taking its Coming Back Out Brisbane event online and to The Tivoli. Additionally, several of the artists and organisations participating in the inaugural Working Title creative residency will showcase their works-in-progress at the Judith Wright Arts Centre.

The reimagined Brisbane Festival 2020 will be held from 4 to 26 September. All Festival events comply with relevant COVID-safe plans and health authority directions. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: The Coming Back Out Ball – photo by Bryony Jackson