Tour news

Major Federal Funding for a National Tour

Such exciting news to share – we have received Major Federal Funding for a National Tour of the exhibition ‘Dancing in Fetters: the culture of convict dance’, based on doctoral research undertaken by Dr Heather Blasdale Clarke. Funding of $129,465 by the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia programme enables the exhibition to tour nationally from late 2021 through to 2024 to seven museums!  There will be a mix of public programming including concerts, workshops, and education pack and interactive videos.

Brisbane, Tasmania, Sydney, Norfolk Island, Fremantle


We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands across which the tour travels, and recognise the importance of music and dance in the First Nation’s culture.

Dust off your diaries

As Australia opens up, it’s time to dust off your diaries and dance shoes for the various venues taking in the national @dancinginfetterstour Tour agreements are signed, sealed and delivered with dates determined for you to diarise and decide where you will take in ‘Dancing in Fetters – the culture of convict dance’ display. Running 2021 through 2024, the exhibition sets sail at the Commissariat Store Museum Brisbane @rhs_qld @queensland followed by venues at @norfolk.island @tasmania @visitnsw and @westernaustralia This project has been assisted by the @ausgov Visions of Australia funding. Thanks is extended to partners @abbeymuseum and #bushtraditions and receiving venues in the following tour order (check venues closer to months for exact opening and closing dates) :
@rhs_qld Nov 2021 – March 2022
@tas_wool_centre April – July, 2022
@woolmers_estate July – Oct 2022
@hawkesburyregionalmuseum Oct 2022 – Jan 2023
#5parramattasquare TBC
@norfolk_island_museum April – Aug 2023
@fremantleprison Sept 2023 – Aug 2024

The launch approaches

What’s in store? The national launch of the @dancinginfetterstour is set for @rhs_qld The Commissariat Store Museum this Friday evening as a taste of what’s in store for seven recipient venues. Curator Dr Clarke will speak at the opening and there will be performances of music and dance from the convict period. The exhibition runs through to 9 March 2022 and is available to view Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am – 4pm.

All set for tonight’s opening with a neat and tight display of @dancinginfetterstour at @rhs_qld
Glad to see full quota of attendees have booked in. Stay tuned for more happenings while it’s here in @queensland Last display date is March 9 before it trots off to Tasmania for @tas_wool_centre @tasmanian_wool_centre_museum and @woolmers.estate

Our lovely and lively dance team

Our lively and lovely @dancinginfetterstour dance and music team are performing at this evening’s launch (26 November 2021) at @rhs_qld @dancinginfetterstour has a terrific education pack with programming already being taken up by many of the seven tour venues.

Past times & Pastimes

This Covid-19 contemporary world has seen a reassessment of priorities, what matters most to people and how they live their lives, with some picking up interests they’ve not before considered such as music, dance and historical engagement. In the convict world that went before, people lived for the chance to do a jig and meet up to make music, to sing and to dance. ‘Dancing in Fetters’ delivers that experience and you can be part of the convict past by visiting the exhibition on its national tour to seven venues, including the Commissariat Store Museum in Brisbane, Tasmanian Wool Centre and Woolmers Estate in Tasmania, Hawkesbury Regional Museum and the new 5 Parramatta Square (Parramatta) in New South Wales, Norfolk Island Museum, and Fremantle Prison in Western Australia. So stay tuned for the venues that interest you the most as the exhibition sets to jig across five Australian states and territories. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia program.

Radio interview on ABC Nightlife 28/06/2022
In a discussion with presenter Suzanne Hill, Curator Dr Heather Clarke discusses the career of convict musician Jeremiah Byrne who played the flageolet in the ‘hop shops’ (dance halls) in the disreputable Rocks area of Sydney in 1832. Jeremiah is featured in our Dancing in Fetters exhibition, and a flageolet is also on display.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nightlife/heather-clarke/13952132

Down at the Abbey

Collaboration and partnerships abound with the recent federally funded ‘Dancing in Fetters – the culture of convict dance’ national tour, 2021-2024. ‘Dancing in Fetters’ is about democratising culture and was originally conceived between Cultural Historian Dr Heather Blasdale Clarke and Tour Manager Joan Kelly to ensure acknowledgement on a national scale. Other contributors to the tour include Roland Clarke, undertaking the musical direction and Bush Traditions, who are on board as Partners to deliver programming to venues. Edith Cuffe, Manager, The Abbey Museum recently stated, “The Abbey Museum is pleased to have the opportunity to support this great project. This exhibition explores part of Australia’s convict history and highlights that dance and music can lift the human heart even in our most challenging times. This is an important story to tell.” This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia program. {Images ~ Terry Young MP and Dr Heather Clarke, Curator and Cultural Historan, announce the exhibition to our with Edith Cuffe Manager @abbeymuseum and tour music director Roland Clarke. Photos courtesy the office of Terry Young MP}

Follow the news from each venue

Venue One: Commissariat Store Museum, Brisbane
Venue Two: Tasmanian Wool Centre Museum, Ross, Tasmania
Venue Three: Woolmers Estate, Longford, Tasmania
Venue Four: Hawkesbury Regional Museum
Venue Five: Norfolk Island
Venue Six: Fremantle Prison

Other venues to be confirmed.

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