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Neos Kosmos Thursday : 25 February 2016
24 - ΝΕΟΣ ΚΟΣΜΟΣ ΠΕΜΠΤΗ 25 ΦΕΒΡΟΥΑΡΙΟΥ 2016 Lonsdale St. Festival The Festival should receive arts funding FOTIS KAPETOPOULOS This weekend over 120,000 people will cram into Melbourne's Lonsdale Street for the 29th Greek Lonsdale Festival.http:// www.greekcentre.com.au/ lonsdalestreetfestival/> There will be three stages, international musicians, hundreds of community dancers, backgammon, diabetes- pumping baklava, lots of lambs slaughtered for souvlaki, and even an "island bar" for hipsters. The Festival will also feature a parade of politicians including the Prime Minister, the Victorian Premier and Opposition Leader and various ministers but it won't have is arts funding. Why? Mums and dads, teens and kids, young families, singles, gay and straight, grandmothers and grandfathers, professional, arty and the not so- all the Greek demographics come together this weekend at the Greek Lonsdale Festival when Hellenism and the sense that we are all citizens of migration connects us all. Many of us go by virtue of being Greek, guilt and our mothers' voices in our heads, yet we have a good time. Free of the polite constraints of being Anglo we can just be. Many others come who are not Greek; they come for the involvement, culture and fun. This year the big international act is Alkinoos Ioannides a respected 'world musician' who melds electric music with chamber orchestras, rock and choirs . He will be joined by Yiorgos Kaloudis (cello, Cretan lyra), Dimitrios Chatzizisis (violin), Dimitris Tsekouras (double bass) and Manolis Pappos (bouzouki). This is a rock-solid world music ethnic gig for all, not just Greeks. Despite the size and scope of the Festival it doesn't receive arts funding. There is always hope for some project funding but where do the funding bodies sit when it comes to the panoply of cultural festivals across Australia? How do arts funding and policy bodies harness the energy and utilise the infrastructure of so many 'ethnic', (for a better word), festivals? Why aren't ethnic festivals used to generate better art, develop new arts administrators, link into business and sponsorship, engage new audience and engage internationally? They are the festivals of Diasporas; are they not? At the weekend there will be hundreds of young Australian sweating it out in traditional dances, choreographed by professional folklorists and choreographers from Greece. One wonders how many young people dancing could be audiences and possibly emerging contemporary Australian dancers of the future? I'm not talking about "outreach", rather "in-reach", real engagement and real involvement. How many of the many young playing lyra, bouzouki or toumberleki will end up at the Victorian College of the Arts or Monash University studying music instead of law? This is an issue for arts education institutions and arts funding bodies, not just the community. Context time: Greece in February erupts into an orgy of dancing, drinking, and umm… orgying. In ancient times these festivals began as part of the worship to Dionysus, the god of wine and lasciviousness. The dour, Christian Orthodox transformed these festivities into Apokries - a preparation for Lent. In reality, the Greeks, simultaneously irreligious and pious at the same time, saw the festivities as an excuse for excess. Apokries allows all, young and old to blow off steam for a month in February. Dionysian rituals swamp most of Greece and its islands in outlandish costume wearing, dancing, feasting and drinking. Melbourne's Lonsdale Street Greek Festival is one of the many community festivals in Australia that federal and state arts funding bodies have little engagement with. So obsessed are funding bodies with "community partnerships" that they forget the real and tangible community partnerships these festivals represent. In terms of economic output, just go to any tourism website and see ethnic festivals share space with tennis, football and other sporting events - legitimating Australia's 'vibrant' cultural diversity. Dr WHO Kurin from the Smithsonian Institution and former director of the Smithsonian Festival, a multicultural festival that brings in over 1.4 million people in the Washington DC Mall says TO WHO? YOU?, "The festival gives people a powerful platform on which to engage in a cultural conversation with their fellow citizens and human beings". Arts funding bodies need to enter that "conversation" and seek partnerships with ethnic festivals. Various arts organisations do have associations with ethnic festivals but where do these festivals in a national festivals' policy? The arts industry dialogue is focused on arts not culture, not in any big C way. The Lonsdale Festival does receive support from the Victorian Multicultural Commission and the City of Melbourne, but the events generated from the Greek community in its street life, tourism, arts and cultural events, political leverage far outweigh the current funding it receives. Ethnic festivals are many and of varying size and managerial and curatorial sophistication. Not all are mega-fests like the Greek or Chinese events. If funding bodies sought greater input into these festivals, they could support greater artistic, cultural and creative industry development on existing and very stable infrastructure that is largely resourced by the community. I'd guess that if all funding was take away from the Greek, or Chinese, or Vietnamese communities then they would still celebrate and create culture. I am not sure how long any of the existing mainstream sarts festivals would last without funding. The Greek Lonsdale Festival this weekend will range from the excellent, to the commercial and even the ersatz at times, but it will be a well-run and well-structured celebration of Greek life in this city. It will have many volunteers, thousands of audiences and heavy sponsors. It will have bipartisan political clout. The development of a strategy that creates pathways for artists, administrators and the development of international art programs premised on Diaspora would be well served if arts funding bodies had a deeper relationship with key ethnic festivals. Not some outreach and engagement program for missionary arts workers. Imagine funding established ethnic festivals to act as mentors and conduits for emerging community festivals by African, Middle Eastern and Near Eastern communities. Think of a genuine cultural policy that examined intangible cultural heritage of ethnic, social, art form and occupational communities. The Smithsonian Institution does just that and they are not a small cultural player - they run 19 national museums and a range of festivals - the biggest being the Smithsonian Festival in July, which attracts more than 1.4 million people over eight days. Jorge Menidis the Director of the Greek Centre of Contemporary Culture is very clear on the wedge between art and the culture of the festival; "There's an inherent argument that somehow contemporary dance, or say jazz is real art, as opposed to a Cretan dance group's work, this is an arts' colonial approach dictating what art should be. Art in is about skill and creative expression." He goes on to ask; "Is for example a performance of Karagiozi [Greek Shadow puppetry] less meritorious than the shadow animation by saying Boom Chicago?" Festival Hellenika celebrates 25 years in Adelaide and launches 2016 program THEODORA MAIOS Last Thursday night marked a very promising start to one of the most iconic arts festivals in South Australia, in the presence of government and community dignitaries that gathered in the Adelaide Pavillion Parklands for the official launch. Festival Hellenika (formerly known as The Greek Cultural Month), celebrates and promotes Hellenic arts and culture through a number of events, offering an open platform for local artists of any background to showcase their Hellenic connections through their work. Held annually, it has become a major part of South Australia's cultural scene. Celebrating the Festival's 25th anniversary, the newly appointed President, Ms. Loula Dacolias announced the upcoming events and detailed program guide for 2016. "Festival Hellenika is made possible through the passion and commitment of our committee members. "Through our annual gatherings of artists, we will continue to offer a wide ranging series of performances, screenings, presentations, exhibitions, concerts and events that reflect the talent and passion that have engaged audiences throughout South Australia", highlighted Ms. Dacolias. The Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Volunteers, Zoe Bettison MP, also attended the launch, representing Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill, MP. "Festival Hellenika invites all South Australians to experience the influence of Hellenic culture across the arts and live the fullest, richest life we can", Ms Bettison said. In an attempt to explain why succeeding South Australian governments have been proud supporters of this event over the years the minister turned to philosopher Aristotle and one of his famous quotes: "Those who educate children should be honoured as much as those who produce them; because they don't only give life, they give the art of living well. "I think this is exactly what Festival Hellenika does for South Australia." she concluded. A concert at the Marion Cultural Centre (8 & 9 March 2016) in reference to the life and work of the renowned Rebetika and Laika songs composer, Giannis Papaioannou, will be one of the two highlights in this year's Festival together with the "Xenitia" two-hour music concert (1&2 April 2016) at the Adelaide Festival Centre which will be a tribute to the generations of those who once tasted the sorrows and the joys of immigration. Established in 1991, with the support of the Greek Consulate General of Greece in South Australia, Festival Hellenika is a non-political, non-sectarian, non-profit and independent organisation with a governing board of elected volunteers. "Festival Hellenika has been celebrating Greek Culture in Adelaide for a quarter of a century, reflecting the talent and passion that exist in South Australia and the Hellenic State will continue to support its evolution within the multicultural tapestry of South Australia." stated Consul General of Greece in South Australia, Mr. Andreas Gouras. The official program for Festival Hellenika, which runs from February to May 2016, can be found on the official website www. festivalhellenika.org.au Greek Festival of Sydney 27-28 FEB Launching Festival Hellenika in Adelaide Greek food to take the spotlight Rising interest in Greek cuisine has made food the main attraction of the Festival There's more to greek food than souvlaki and the smell of meat on charcoal and the Lonsdale Street Festival acknowledges that; for the past three years, an attempt to reimagine the way Greek food is represented in the festival has been taking place and this year's edition will continue on this path. More than 70 stalls will be set this year, most of them food-related, as nothing says "Greece" more eloquently as its cuisine. Adding to the culinary approach, six food vans and an open air bar offering ouzo, beer and wine from Greece, will attract foodies - and not just the Greeks. Apart from the stalls, food will be in the spotlight at the "Procal Greek Kitchen" stage, where some of the most prominent personalities of Greek cooking in Melbourne - Kathy Tsaples (Sweet Greek), Philip Vakos (Bahari), Angela Nicolettou (Angela's Kitchen), Spiri Tsintziras (Writing Spirit), Angie Giannakodakis (Elyros) and Mary Valle (Mary's Kitchen) - will present food demonstrations. Heleena and Vicki Moursellas, who became famous participating in the popular tv show "My Kitchen Rules" will also take part in the Festival, undertaking the MC role to some of the demonstrations. Their presence is bound to become a point of attraction, although experience has shown that no celebrity can steal the spotlight from the main attraction: Greek food in all its glory. Interest in Greek cooking has risen through the past few years in culinary circles, as the quality of Greek produce is gaining traction all over the world. And though the ongoing crisis in Greece has challenged exports, the industry is fighting hard to tackle the problem and find ways to thrive, despite of adversity. Such is the case of the wine industry, as will be obvious to anyone who will take part to one of the wine tastings that will take place at the festival.A rising interest in healthy eating has also helped Greek cuisine gain popularity, as the Mediterranean diet remains one of the most praised by nutritionists throughout the world, urging chefs as well as food brands to take advantage and reintroduce Greek food to the public. But what would a festival be without the element of fun? Pure, anadulterated fun is the objective of the "Loukoumadomania" competition that will see contestants engorging on the traditional greek donuts, for the amusement of the audience. Prepare to be sprinkled with cinnamon and honey.
18 February 2016
3 March 2016