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15 Mar 2022

Media releases

Matriarch of Australian rap joins global talent line-up at New Beginnings Festival

BARKAA, a Malyangapa, Barkindji woman from Western New South Wales to perform as part of leading arts and culture festival’s first show coming out of COVID-19

The arts and culture festival that showcases Australia’s leading talent from refugee and migrant backgrounds has announced an eclectic program to be held at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Featuring renowned hip hop artist BARKAA, Australian-Sudanese music icon Gordon Koang and Armenian-Lebanese jazz composer and artist Zela Margossian, the one-day extravaganza that includes dance performances, artisan workshops, and cultural food and markets is set to be Sydney’s cultural event of the year.

The Festival’s Ambassador Shyamla Eswaran, an award-winning independent movement artist, teacher and founder of BINDI BOSSES with a Master’s Degree in International Human Rights Law, said that this year’s theme “Where You Belong” invites the public to join a broader conversation through arts and culture.

“This year’s theme is important as it creates a safe space to facilitate open and broader conversations about what it means to find common ground and intersecting experiences as diverse peoples living across these lands known as Australia,” Ms Eswaran said.

“First Nations, refugee and migrant/settler experiences each represent a foundational thread in the rich tapestry of so-called Australia, yet these stories and voices are not sufficiently included, represented or centred in the mainstream.”

Shyamla has taken centre stage at previous New Beginnings festivals and is a strong advocate of the creative and cultural vision of the festival.

“I am deeply honoured to be the New Beginnings Festival Ambassador and wholly support it as a platform that gives artists from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to be seen, heard, appreciated and celebrated.”

Settlement Services International (SSI) Arts and Culture Producer Raphael Brasil said that as the festival’s audience reach broadened, so did its program and overall impact in promoting Australia’s culturally diverse talent to the general public.

“To have artists of BARKAA’s calibre perform and share the festival’s vision is testament to how far New Beginnings has come since its inception and how we continue to attract a wider and more diverse audience year on year,” he said.

“I’m particularly proud of this year’s line-up as our headline acts are prominent artists on the national scale highlighting the vast diversity of the Festival,” Mr Brasil said.

“BARKAA, a First Nations female rapper and rising star, and Gordon Koang, a household name in South Sudan, really encapsulates the festival and this year’s theme of bringing people from all walks of life together and creating synergies through the arts.”

Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) Head of Programs and Site Activation, Bill Harris, said the museum and SSI’s partnership had allowed the organisations to support each other’s projects over the past few years.

“Together, we can strengthen the national migration story by assisting newcomers and building awareness of the experience of migration to Australia.

“We share a passion for the cultivation of an environment that enables new migrants to understand their new country and provide structures that can assist them in the process.”

Mr Brasil said that the pandemic had been tough on the arts, but this next phase of NSW re- opening provided fertile ground for launching innovative and high-quality arts experiences that promoted a deeper understanding across many communities.

“We’re coming out of COVID and are here to celebrate with arts and culture providing your remedy.

“With so much creative talent and cultural vibrancy among newcomer communities, this year’s milestone event rings true to the festival’s vision of building a creative platform for newly arrived artists and makers while simultaneously creating a space for community building and cohesion.”

Event details:

When: Saturday, March 19, 2022

Time: 12.00 pm – 8.00 pm

Where: 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour Sydney NSW 2000 Australia

For more info, visit:

Media enquiries: SSI Senior Communications Officer Rebeka Selmeczki; 0468 998 300

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