Festival shatters refugee stereotypes

Newly arrived artists join leading arts and culture festival

New Beginnings Spring Festival 18 November 2017 12-7pm

New Beginnings Spring Festival 18 November 2017 12-7pm

Artists, craftspeople and gastronomes forging new lives in Australia will take centre stage at a free festival in November that challenges stereotypes about newly arrived communities.

On November 18, Sydney’s iconic Darling Harbour will host the New Beginnings Festival in Spring, where thousands of Sydneysiders will gather to enjoy the musical, culinary and artistic talents of people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

Along with an array of stalls showcasing food and craft from around the world, a jam-packed program of musical and dance performances will include:

  • Kween G: Renowned for potent content, Kween G delivers dynamic style as an MC, performer and hip hop artist. Born in Uganda, Kween came to Australia after her family was granted asylum. 
     
  • Sako Dermenjian: Born and raised in Syria, Sako’s guitar has been the one constant in his life since war broke out in his homeland. Since coming to Australia, he’s resumed his musical studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and is back on track to achieving his goal of becoming a world renowned classical guitarist.
     
  • Hani Abdile: A writer and spoken word poet, Hani made her way to Australia by boat and spent 11 months on Christmas Island. While detained, Hani found healing in writing poetry.
     
  • The Human Sound Project: Originating in New York to help communities unleash their purpose through the universal language of music, this high energy group will debut a song created in collaboration with hundreds of refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia.

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 not-for-profit Settlement Services International (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.”

About the New Beginnings Festival in Spring:
The New Beginnings Festival in Spring is the second installment of SSI’s 2017 New Beginnings: Refugee Arts and Culture Festival, an initiative of Settlement Services International (SSI). The festival kicked off in June, with the New Beginnings Festival for Refugee Week, which comprised an art exhibition, workshops and film screenings. Now in its third year, the New Beginnings: Refugee Arts & Culture Festival is a celebration of the artistic vibrancy, cultural expressions and heritage of people from refugee backgrounds. The New Beginnings Festival in Spring was supported by funding from the City of Sydney Council and Commonwealth Bank of Australia. 

About SSI: 
Settlement Services International is a community-based not-for-profit organisation providing a range of services in the areas of refugee settlement, migrant support services, asylum seeker assistance, housing, multicultural foster care, disability support, employment services and youth support in NSW.

Media enquiries:
SSI Communications Coordinator Hannah Gartrell  (M) 0488 680 287
SSI Communications Coordinator Rebeka Selmeczki  (M) 0468 998 300