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An eclectic group of Sydney’s newest community members took centre stage at an arts and culture festival in Darling Harbour over the weekend.
 
On Saturday November 18, Sydney’s iconic Darling Harbour hosted Settlement Services International’s (SSI) New Beginnings Festival in Spring, where thousands of Sydneysiders gathered to enjoy the musical, culinary and artistic talents of people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
 

Speaking to launch the festival, SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said that the New Beginnings Festival in Spring gave people from migrant and refugee backgrounds an important platform to showcase this heritage in all its richness.

“The festival is a chance to experience firsthand the unique culture and artistry found in new communities, and celebrates the contributions refugees and migrants make to their new homes.” Ms Roumeliotis said.

Along with an array of stalls that showcased food and craft from around the world, a jampacked program of musical and dance performances astounded audiences. Standout performances included dynamic hip hop beats from renowned Ugandan artist Kween G while guitar riffs played by classical guitarist Sako Dermenijan drove shivers up audiences’ spines.

Hani Abdile, a talented spoken word poet, was MC for the day and broke out into prolific verse in between performances keeping crowds on the edge of their seats. Hani had made her way to Australia by boat and had turned to poetry for healing while detained on Christmas Island.

Now in its third year, the New Beginnings Festival in Spring is the brainchild of Carolina Triana — the 2017 recipient of the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Community Medal for Arts & Culture, which recognised her work with refugees and people seeking asylum.

“New Beginnings gives people from refugee and migrant backgrounds an opportunity to showcase the artistic talent and rich cultural heritage they bring to their new homes. For everyday Australians, it’s a chance to experience something new and learn about our neighbours,” said Ms Triana, who is the Arts & Culture Program Manager and festival producer at SSI.

“Bringing people together to bond over the shared enjoyment of music, dance and other cultural expressions is also one of the ways we can fight stereotypes about newly arrived communities. Getting to know someone through their art makes us focus on their creativity and potential – labels like ‘refugee’ or ‘migrant’ are no longer relevant.”

For more information on the New Beginnings Festival in Spring, click here.


Media enquiries:

SSI Communications Coordinator Hannah Gartrell 0488 680 287
SSI Communications Coordinator Rebeka Selmeczki 0468 998 300

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