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11 Jul 2019


New Beginnings Winter Festival forges connections between inner west locals and newly arrived communities


A live painting workshop led by Ghanaian artist Emmanuel Asante kept the little ones busy at the New Beginnings Winter Festival. Photo credits: Damon AMB.

The Winter Festival was the first instalment of the 2019 New Beginnings Festival and showcased artworks produced ahead of the event at a series of cross-generational and cross-cultural public workshops.

The workshops were facilitated by well-established artists and filmmakers from a refugee background, including Majid Rabet, Ali Al Azeez, Mohammed Alanezi and Elham Marvi.

SSI Arts and Culture Producer Raphael Brasil said the success of the creative workshops reflected SSI’s ongoing commitment to support established artists from a refugee and migrant background.

The workshops provided a platform for established artists of refugee background to transfer their skills and knowledge to a broader audience, he said.

“As newcomers adapt to a new social and cultural environment, the workshops provide opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue, highlighting the concept of ‘place’ and connection to Sydney’s inner west.

“The initiative also allowed local communities to learn something new, all while making a social impact.”

The full-day public program of activities was led by newly arrived artists and featured live performances, including the finale of the inaugural Homelands — an interstate music tour that was produced by SSI in partnership with BEMAC (QLD) and celebrated cultural diversity through the promotion of unity, harmony and inclusiveness.

Multicultural food stalls, including local businesses from Ignite® Small Business Start-ups, IgniteAbility® and Sydney’s well-known Addison Road Street Food Markets, set up shop at the Festival and attracted eager crowds who lined up for a culinary feast.

The Festival was produced by SSI in close collaboration with the Community Refugee Welcome Centre and Inner West Council.

Festival highlights included a mesmerising performance with the soaring vocals and rhythmic beats of world-renowned Uyghur musician Shohrat Tursun, and the fluent delivery of spoken word poet Roje Ndayambaje, who left audiences in a reflective mood.

At the Screening Hub, festivalgoers experienced a series of short films created from the cultural perspective of individuals with disability from CALD backgrounds. The films sought to raise awareness, reduce stigma and build aspiration within communities, promoting an inclusive environment.

The second instalment of the annual SSI New Beginnings Festival will be hosted in Sydney’s iconic Darling Harbour on Saturday, November 16, 2019.

The Festival promotes the talents, vitality and diversity that people from refugee and migrant backgrounds bring to Australia’s creative sector.

The outdoor festival will feature live music, dance performances, kids’ workshops and food and market stalls with an array of international cuisines and cultural handicrafts.

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