The New Beginnings Festival for Refugee Week kicked off this week with the opening of an art exhibition featuring the work of up-and-coming refugee artists alongside more established names such as Alex Seton, Garry Trinh, Aroha Groves and Lindy Lee.
Held at 107 in Redfern, the 150-person venue was soon at capacity, packed with people who’d come along to show their support for refugees and an inclusive arts community. More than 250 people attended across the course of the evening.
Settlement Services International (SSI) Arts & Culture Coordinator and festival producer Carolina Triana said the opening of the Singular/Plural exhibition was a chance for the broader Australian public to engage with the communities SSI supports and learn about their experiences and culture through art.
“Events such as New Beginnings also support newly arrived artists to develop their networks in the local art industry, share their skills and hone their artistic practice,” she said.
“Having established local artists appearing alongside newly arrived artists in this year’s exhibition is a wonderful testimony to collaboration and inclusiveness among the artistic community in NSW.”
New Beginnings has become one of the biggest annual events produced by SSI’s self-funded Arts & Culture program, growing from a one-day festival at a local community centre in 2015 to a multi-event program attracting an audience of several thousand Sydneysiders.
“In founding the festival, we were hoping to use the language of art to break down barriers between new and established communities in Sydney and encourage intercultural understanding,” Ms Triana said.
“People who come to Australia in search of safety come from all walks of life, including the art world. It’s important that newly arrived artists have access to professional development and networking opportunities where they can hone their craft and re-establish themselves in the Australian arts community.”
From now until 2 July, the New Beginnings Festival for Refugee Week will include a number of free, family friendly creative events that are a great opportunity to support up-and-coming refugee artists and an inclusive arts community. Everyone is welcome!