Performing arts in Australia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The performing arts in Australia are an important element of the Arts in Australia and Australian culture.


Dance in Australia is diverse, ranging from The Australian Ballet to the Restless Dance Company to the many local dance studios.


Aboriginal music[edit]

Aboriginal song was and remains an integral part of Aboriginal culture since time immemorial. The most famous feature of their music is the didgeridoo. This wooden instrument, used amongst the Aboriginal clans of northern Australia, makes a distinctive droning sound and its use has been adopted by a wide variety of non-Aboriginal performers.

Aboriginal musicians have turned their hand to Western popular musical forms, often to considerable commercial success. Some notable examples include Archie Roach, the Warumpi Band, NoKTuRNL and Yothu Yindi.

Pop and rock[edit]

Australia has produced a wide variety of popular music. While many musicians and bands (some notable examples include the 1960s successes of The Easybeats and the folk-pop group The Seekers, through the heavy rock of AC/DC and the slick pop of INXS and more recently Savage Garden have had considerable international success, there remains some debate over whether Australian popular music really has a distinctive sound. Perhaps the most striking common feature of Australian music, like many other Australian art forms, is the dry, often self-deprecating humour evident in the lyrics.

Until the late 1960s, many have argued that Australian popular music was largely indistinguishable from imported music: British to begin with, then gradually more and more American in the post-war years. The sudden arrival of the 1960s underground movement into the mainstream in the early 1970s changed Australian music permanently: Skyhooks were far from the first people to write songs in Australia, by Australians, about Australia, but they were the first ones ever to make money doing it. The two best-selling Australian albums ever made (at that time) put Australian music on the map. Within a few years, the novelty had worn off and it became commonplace to hear distinctively Australian lyrics and sometimes sounds side-by-side with the imitators and the imports.

The national expansion of ABC youth radio station Triple J during the 1990s has greatly increased the visibility and availability of homegrown talent to listeners nationwide. Since the mid-1990s a string of successful alternative Australian acts have emerged – artists to achieve both underground (critical) and mainstream (commercial) success include silverchair, Grinspoon, Powderfinger and Jet.

Classical music[edit]

The first Australian musician of any sort to achieve international fame was operatic soprano Nellie Melba, in the late 19th century. Well-known soprano Joan Sutherland is also from Australia.

Australia has a considerable history of classical performance, with symphony orchestras established around the state capitals in the early 20th century, as well as opera companies and other musical ensembles. However, relatively few Australian classical compositions have achieved lasting recognition.



There are a number of major performing arts organisations engaged in the performing arts. There was an enguiry held in 1999, chaired by Helen Nugent, the report of the enquiry led to significant change, particularly in government support through the Australia Council and the then Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.[1]

PAC Australia[edit]

Performing Arts Connections Australia (PAC Australia), formerly the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA), is the peak national body for performing arts centres. It was founded some years before 2003, and changed its name to PAC Australia in 2017.[2][3][4] As of 2022 it has over 240 members, which include arts centres, independent producers and producing companies, festivals, performing arts consultants, agencies and funding bodies.[5]

In 2003 APACA created the Drover(s) Awards, to recognise excellence in performing arts touring. As of 2019, there were two awards: the Drover Award for Performing Arts Centre of the Year, and Drover Award for Tour of the Year. The awards were not held in 2020 and 2021 owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.[6]

From 2022, the format and name were changed, to Impact Awards. There are no categories or structure for award eligibility in the new awardsThe Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend Award (formally known as Touring Legend) is the highest award, to recognise "exceptional, long-time service to the performing arts industry, not limited to touring". It is named in honour of Wendy Blacklock AM, pioneer of national touring and founder of Performing Lines. This award was won by Stephen Page in its inaugural year.[7] Adelaide-based ActNow Theatre won one of the four other awards given to performers,[8] while Home of the Arts (HOTA), a venue in Surfers Paradise, won an Innovator Award.[9]

Significant Australian performing arts organisations[edit]

Significant performing arts organisations include:[1]

Performing art Australia ACT NSW NT Queensland SA Tasmania Victoria WA
Dance: Ballet Queensland Ballet The Australian Ballet West Australian Ballet Company
Dance: Contemporary Sydney Dance Company and Bangarra Dance Theatre Dancenorth Australian Dance Theatre
Education *Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts

The Australian School of Performing Arts

Canberra Academy of Dramatic Art National Institute of Dramatic Art,[10] National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) Dance College,[10] Australian Film Television and Radio School,[10] and Sydney Conservatorium of Music Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University Helpmann Academy Australian National Academy of Music,[10] Australian Ballet School,[10] Flying Fruit Fly Circus School,[10] National Institute of Circus Arts,[10] and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (part of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne) Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts
Festivals Sydney Festival Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures Brisbane Festival Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Fringe and WOMADelaide Melbourne International Arts Festival and Melbourne Fringe Festival Perth International Arts Festival
Funding Agencies Australia Council and Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts ArtsACT NSW Ministry for the Arts Department of the Arts and Museums Arts Queensland Arts SA Arts Tasmania Arts Victoria ArtsWA
Music: Choral Australian Boys Choir The Australian School of Performing Arts

The Australian Girls Choir

Music: Chamber Australian Festival of Chamber Music Australian Chamber Orchestra and Musica Viva Australia Astra Chamber Music Society and Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition
Music: Orchestra Australian World Orchestra and Symphony Services International Sydney Symphony Orchestra Darwin Symphony Orchestra Queensland Symphony Orchestra Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Melbourne Symphony Orchestra West Australian Symphony Orchestra
Music: Orchestra (Pit) Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra Orchestra Victoria
Music: Youth Orchestra Australian Youth Orchestra Sydney Youth Orchestra and SBS Radio and Television Youth Orchestra Melbourne String Ensemble and Melbourne Youth Orchestra
Opera Opera Australia Opera Queensland


State Opera Company of South Australia Victorian Opera West Australian Opera
Theatre: Physical Circus Oz
Theatre: Text Based Merrigong Theatre Company, Company B Ltd, Sydney Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre Company, and The Bell Shakespeare Company Ltd Queensland Theatre Company; La Boite Theatre Company; Tropic Sun Theatre Company ; JUTE State Theatre Company of South Australia Melbourne Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre Black Swan Theatre Company
Venues Illawarra Performing Arts Centre (Wollongong), Sydney Opera House Queensland Performing Arts Centre ; Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts : Bille Brown Studio at Queensland Theatre Company ; Metro Arts Adelaide Festival Centre Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart Victorian Arts Centre, Hamer Hall, Melbourne, and Melbourne Recital Centre His Majesty's Theatre and The Playhouse Theatre

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Nugent (Chair), Helen; Michael Chaney; David Gonski; Catherine Walter (1999). Securing the Future – Inquiry into the Major Performing Arts (application/pdf Object) (PDF). Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. Retrieved 3 October 2008.
  2. ^ "Annual reports". PAC Australia. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
  3. ^ 2003 Annual Report APACA, 2003.
  4. ^ 2017/18 Annual Report PAC Australia, 2018
  5. ^ "About us". PAC Australia. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
  6. ^ "About The Drovers". PAC Australia. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
  7. ^ "Impact Awards". PAC Australia. 8 August 2022. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
  8. ^ "PAC Australia Impact Awards". ActNow Theatre. 29 September 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  9. ^ "Presentation of PAC Australia's Impact Awards recognise excellence in performing arts leadership". Australasian Leisure Management. 7 September 2022. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (15 September 2008). "Arts training bodies". Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) List of performing arts training institutions funded by the Australian Government

External links[edit]