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Brisbane Powerhouse


06 Apr 2021 Media Release

Press your best party frock and dust off your dancing shoes – Brisbane Powerhouse has unveiled a spectacular 10-day celebration to mark its 21st birthday.

A star-studded line-up of local and national acts will fill the much-loved riverside destination from 6 May, culminating in a 21st Birthday Concert.

Hosted by Brisbane comedy queen Mel Buttle, the variety-style headline concert on 15 May features performances by Australia’s Eurovision starlet Kate Miller-Heidke, ARIA-winner Clare Bowditch, funny man Wil Anderson, home-grown heroes Briefs Factory, William Barton with Camerata, CIRCA, rising stars Benjin Maza, Alinta McGrady and more.

Brisbane Powerhouse Artistic Director Kris Stewart said despite the iconic venue’s original 20th anniversary celebrations being thwarted by COVID-19 in 2020, a 21st bash was far more fitting for the riverside rogue.

“We’re certainly a glass-half-full bunch at Brisbane Powerhouse, and while a venue might traditionally celebrate its milestones in decades, a 21st celebration feels more appropriate for us,” Stewart said.

“Since it reopened its doors as a celebrated cultural precinct in May 2000, Brisbane Powerhouse has supercharged the careers of thousands of artists.

“We’re extremely proud that so many of them will return as part of our big birthday bash, including alt-pop princess Kate Miller-Heidke, who made her mainstage debut at Brisbane Powerhouse at 18, and legendary Brisbane band george who were the first band ever to play on the Powerhouse Theatre stage.”

The ARIA-winners return to where it all began for four shows (6–8 May), performing the complete double-platinum album Polyserena, headlined by songbird Katie Noonan.

“It’s a beautiful full-circle moment to celebrate dual milestones: Brisbane Powerhouse’s 21st birthday and the 20th anniversary of Polyserena’s creation,” Stewart said.

Additional program highlights include a retrospective look at Brisbane’s monumental multi-arts festival Tranceplant, which was the first documented ‘festival’ at the precinct in 1994 – six years before the venue officially opened as a cultural destination.

Brisbane Powerhouse CEO Fiona Maxwell said it was vital to acknowledge the building’s history and legacy as part of the 21st birthday celebrations.

Tranceplant was one of those city-defining cultural moments when Australia’s most innovative and experimental visual, installation and performance artists took over the then-abandoned power station and provided a glimpse of what might be possible for the iconic building,” Maxwell said.

“As the first official ‘festival’ at the precinct – one that inadvertently influenced the flair and flavour of today’s much-loved festivals in the venue and indeed the contemporary, local and often avant-garde programming we are renowned for – it’s important for us to pay homage to Tranceplant with a very special event.”

On 12 May, ABC Radio’s Rebecca Levingston will moderate an extraordinary Writers+Ideas event with original Tranceplant producers and participants Andy Forbes, Jay Younger and Kiley Gaffney, signalling the official launch of the Tranceplant History Project – a digital archive of the infamous experimental performance event.

Another substantial history project to mark the 21st anniversary is Regenerate – a free exhibition spanning three ‘acts’ showcasing the building’s rich 90-year history.

“The story of Brisbane Powerhouse spans much longer than our 21 years as a performance space,” Maxwell said.

“This special exhibition exposes the building’s foundations as a coal-fired power station and reveals its transformation from a derelict industrial space to a cultural icon.

“The final ‘act’ celebrates the thousands of extraordinary Brisbane, Australian and international artists and audiences who have been an integral part of the last 21 years,” Maxwell said.

The Regenerate exhibition will take place from 21 April and an accompanying commemorative book will ensure its stories and secrets are preserved for years to come.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said Brisbane Powerhouse was a key part of Brisbane’s cultural fabric, delivering more than 1200 performances every year.

“We traditionally celebrate 21st birthdays as a coming of age, but the Brisbane Powerhouse has well and truly come of age as our city’s home of contemporary arts,’’ he said.

“Delivering a diverse range of art exhibitions, shows, festivals and performances, it really is a powerhouse of creativity; a powerhouse of culture and the arts; and a powerhouse of community.

“Most of us have a story about the venue whether it’s experiencing an extraordinary performance, catching up with friends for a drink or attending a wedding. It’s a part of what makes us Brisbane.”

Brisbane Powerhouse’s 21st celebration takes place from 6–15 May, 2021. Tickets go on sale for the 21st Birthday Concert and Tranceplant on 8 April, 2021.

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We acknowledge the Jagera/Turrbal peoples, the First Nation Traditional Owners of the land on which we gather. We pay respects to all Elders past and present and acknowledge the young leaders who are working beside our Elders in our cultural industries. We recognise all First Nation peoples as the original storytellers of these lands and acknowledge the important role they continue to play in our community.



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