The G20 Cultural Celebrations were unique in many respects. Whilst arts and cultural events have played a role in previous G20 Leaders’ Summits, this was the first time a program was produced for the host city itself, rather than just the delegates. From the outset the celebrations were in unchartered territory.
The festivities were officially launched in Cairns in September 2014 with Tropical Jam, a star-studded community concert delivered by the Queensland Music Festival and celebrating the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The G20 Leaders’ Summit presented a unique opportunity to showcase Brisbane, its culture and talents on the world stage. The cultural celebrations program was incredibly diverse, with hundreds of events spread right across the city and suburbs. The vast majority of artists and organisations involved in delivering the program lived and worked in southeast Queensland. The celebrations actively reflected the diversity of the city, and helped to create a strong sense of inclusiveness and promote a positive identity for Brisbane locally, nationally and internationally.
In the words of the Creative Director Athol Young, the G20 Cultural Celebrations was “a festival by Brisbane, about Brisbane and for Brisbane”.
The G20 Program actively engaged with just about every conceivable arts organisation and artform in one way or another, asking them to be part of the larger vision of city-wide participation and celebration. Access and participation was the mantra and opportunities for people to get actively involved in the celebrations were fundamental for every event and production.
The program built on the legacy of previous major cultural events, particularly Expo 88, and cleverly leveraged the special strengths of the Brisbane arts sector in key areas of music, circus, street performance, community arts and traditional and contemporary dance.
The G20 Cultural Celebrations went way beyond the usual forms of acknowledgement and recognition of traditional cultures. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture were a fundamental core of the celebrations and a source of artistic innovation and excellence.