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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 7 March 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 7 MARCH 2015 5 NEWS Same same but different Is the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival still appealing for the Greek Australian community? HELEN VELISSARIS It's one of the biggest events on the Greek Australian calendar in Melbourne, but after 28 years of the Lonsdale Street Festival, has the street glendi remained relevant to the Greek Australian community? Neos Kosmos conducted a poll last week, asking our readers whether Greek street festivals in Australia needed a drastic overhaul, and 82 per cent of readers voted yes. While many praised the festival for its commitment to showcasing the best traditional and cultural aspects of the community, many felt as though the festival had outgrown itself and was in need of new ideas. One of the most common complaints was the location was no longer suitable. "At the moment the area allocated is very cramped and uncomfortable," Esther Kaghelaris-Mikropoulos said. "We have outgrown Lonsdale Street." Angela Vasilakos agreed, saying she doesn't go any- more because "taking the kids into a crammed city festival isn't appealing". Many have called for the festival to be moved to a bigger location, preferably a large park to better control crowds and give stallholders and performers more room to stretch out. Director of the Greek Centre of Contemporary Culture and an organiser of the festival, Jorge Menidis, says moving the festival to another location will change the festival's feel. "In terms of the festival, I think it changes fundamentally the minute it moves location," he tells Neos Kosmos. "Quite frankly, it loses its soul, or the event just becomes another weekend event at, for instance, Federation Square. There are so many of them that they don't really mean anything. "Here it's got a very strong identity." He says as long as the Community will be funding it, the festival will be staged on Lonsdale Street. Others who braved the Have we outgrown Lonsdale Street? crowds to go to the festival were annoyed to see more of the same. "I go every year to support the event and it's not really that interesting," Pauline El Horri says. "The clubs represented do the same thing or similar every year." Sophie Koutsoukos agreed and called for new ideas to revamp the festival. "It needs to have something more appealing and different," she says. This year organisers tried hard to include new offerings for festivalgoers, but that mostly fell in the food and drink offerings, not in the stallholder area or the program. "We specifically went out and targeted other people to come into the festival who wouldn't normally set up at our festival," Mr Menidis says. "We brought 12 new suppliers, mainly in food provisions." Many felt that relying on food and the same traditional dancing and music program didn't properly promote the community's heritage in the best light. "Enough of appealing to the lowest common denominator when it comes to Hellenic festivals," said Jo Kargiotis. "It's hard to defend our heritage and promote the interesting things being done by Greeks when all most see is covered in tzatziki." Nick Sardis suggested organisers would benefit by adding more Greek theatre performances, more history learning experiences and more traditional costumes. Mr Menidis says the Community is conscious of the changing interests of festi- Where there’s life there’s hope Indonesia executions: Vamvakinou joins poignant vigil MICHAEL SWEET As a beautiful sunrise spread across the Canberra landscape on Thursday, Federal MP Maria Vamvakinou joined the nation's political leaders for a sombre candlelit vigil at Parliament House to protest the Indonesian government's planned execution of convicted Bali drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Speaking later to Neos Kosmos, Ms Vamvakinou said the vigil was intended to show the solidarity of the Australian parliament on what she described as a "tragic" situation. "It's a case of while there's life there's hope," she said. Ms Vamvakinou said that her overpowering emotion was one of sadness. "Ten years ago we were in a similar situation with the Singapore government over Van Tuong Nguyen. "I was a new member then and I made a speech about it. I just found it unbelievable in this day and age that the death penalty was still being used. "I believe in transformation and I believe in rehabilitation. I don't believe in state sanctioned death." Asked if the Australian government had done all it could to save the two men's lives, the Member for Calwell said: "We are talking about a sovereign country that has very clearly articulated laws and penalties and I think the government has done what it can within the constraints." Ms Vamvakinou added that if the executions are carried out as planned, she did not believe withdrawing Australia's ambassador to Indonesia would be an appropriate or helpful response by the government. "I can’t see how it helps or changes anything. It's more constructive to try and change situations so they don't happen again," she said. Meanwhile, the AFP faces bitter recriminations over its involvement in the original arrests of the nine individuals who attempted to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin out of Indonesia. Greens leader Christine Milne, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek at the dawn candlelight vigil at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday. PHOTO: AAP/MICK TSIKAS. In 2005 the Indonesian police were tipped off by their Australian counterparts, who sent them most of the names and the flight details of the Bali Nine. Asked to comment on the AFP's role in the fate of Chan and Sukumaran, Ms Vamakinou said: "I think the whole situation is tragic. I would like to think we could learn from this. There's enough to reflect on and learn from." PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES. valgoers and invites anyone with new ideas to come forward and collaborate with the festival. "We're conscious of the changing face of the community," he says. "We welcome any feedback." The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria is conducting a survey about the festival which can be completed online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/lsf15audience-survey Those interested in speaking to the organising committee and offering ideas can call (03) 9662 2722.
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