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11 Jan 2023

Media releases

Rising hip hop stars Elsy Wameyo and Birdz headline celebration of multicultural creatives

From First Nations to newcomers, innovators, movers, shakers and everyone in between, New Beginnings Festival is where you belong.

Triple j’s 2022 Unearthed Artist of the Year, Elsy Wameyo, headlines this year’s New Beginnings Festival on 28 January, alongside a lineup of artists from 10+ backgrounds, for one of Sydney’s most iconic celebrations of refugee, migrant and First Nations artists.

The Kenyan-born hip hop and R&B artist will be joined by acclaimed First Nations rapper, Birdz, on the wharves of the Australian National Maritime Museum in the heart of Sydney.

For the first time, the festival will be featured as one of Sydney Festival’s major events, an opportunity that will enable artists and stallholders to display their talents to an even wider audience.

SSI Arts and Culture Producer Raphael Brasil said, “As one of the most multicultural countries in the world, Australia’s creative industry is home to a melting pot of ideas, cultures, and talents. New Beginnings Festival embodies our diversity by showcasing an eclectic mix of music, dance, art, culture, and food from Australia’s leading culturally and linguistically diverse artists and entrepreneurs.”

SSI’s New Beginnings Festival began in 2014 as a platform to use arts and culture to build bridges between refugee communities and wider Australia. From its origins, the event has evolved to include strong representation of both migrant and First Nations artists in recognition that true inclusion can only be achieved by acknowledging and celebrating diversity.

Headliner, Birdz, a multi-award-winning rapper, is renowned for his hard-hitting hip hop with strong messages of hope and self-determination.

Birdz said, “Community, culture, and belonging are all important themes in my music, and so it feels natural to take part in New Beginnings Festival.”

“I’m excited to play in an environment that showcases the diversity of this country, where I can represent my community and culture, and share my story as a proud Butchulla man.”

Other New Beginnings Festival performers include:

  • Jazz singer/songwriter Athésia performing unique compositions in French, Creole, Portuguese and ‘Athésian’, her polyphonic self-invented artistic language
  • Acclaimed Lebanese singer and musician Samira El-Koussa performing alongside highly regarded oud player and Assyrian singer George Karam
  • Blend of film and dance from Blacklux, combining contemporary and traditional West African dance, choreographed by Lucky Lartey
  • Explosive live show with Afro-Cuban and Colombian rhythms by Malo Malo Band
  • Mix of dance, body percussion and song from Suara Indonesia Dance Group

Guests can explore food stalls featuring cuisine from Peru, to Lebanon, to Sierra Leone, and market stalls with entrepreneurs from First Nations, refugee and migrant backgrounds selling their wares.

Mr Brasil said, “Since its inception, New Beginnings Festival has showcased over 360 performers and artists from over 80 cultures. Now in its seventh year, the festival continues to grow bigger in size and significance to allow a real opportunity for our First Nations, migrant and refugee communities to be seen, heard and celebrated.”

Australian National Maritime Museum CEO and Director, Daryl Karp said the museum was proud to host New Beginnings Festival for a second year.

“We are thrilled that this celebration of shared culture takes place here at the museum in Darling Harbour. We hope that New Beginnings Festival will ignite dialogue and further shared experiences, reflecting the inclusivity and diversity at the heart of our national story,” she said.

How to join
The free festival takes place on Gadigal Land at the wharves of Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 28 at 3-10PM and is open to people of all ages.

The festival is proudly presented by SSI and its partners, the Australian National Maritime Museum; City of Sydney; MUNDO Institute and Buzz Speaker Hire; with sponsor and stage partner Allianz.

Find out more


About SSI
Settlement Services International (SSI) is a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other Australians to achieve their full potential. We work with all people who have experienced vulnerability, including refugees, people seeking asylum and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, to build capacity and enable them to overcome inequality.

Media enquiries
SSI Senior Communications Officer Jordan Wood
M: 0403 082 926
E: jwood@ssi.org.au

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