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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 27 February 2016
NEWS 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Changing with the times Twenty-nine years on and the Lonsdale Street Festival is as relevant as ever ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS From 1987, when Don Dunstan chaired the first Antipodes committee and chose to go ahead with the street festival, director of the Greek Centre and Lonsdale Street Festival Jorge Menidis recognises that "it's a different world now". For many of Melbourne's Greek inhabitants, Lonsdale Street is not what it once was, with many iconic Greek cafes, bars, clubs and stores having closed their doors. But Mr Menidis says if you look closer, you'll see a minirenaissance taking shape. "We all know what's happened to Lonsdale Street; it's not the fireplace it once was, but over the last two years there's been nine new Greek businesses open up in the precinct in Melbourne and there's two more coming, so that's exciting," he said during an interview with Neos Kosmos. And while the vast majority of people who identify as being Greek in Australia are now third or fourth generation, the festival appears to be as relevant as ever, with the annual number of attendees speaking for itself, standing between 80,000-100,000. From a distance the festival appears to have continued down the same path over the 29 years; food stalls, Greek music and dancing, and of course, the CBD location. But Mr Menidis says the changes are all in the details. "People may not see it, but quite frankly, the festival has changed quite dramatically on a number of levels. "Sure, there are still dance groups, stallholders, and what have you. But fundamentally the approach to the festival itself, the nature of the performances, the production values and sentiments are vastly different from where they were," he said. Aside from the considerable increase in expenses over the years associated with staging an event of this calibre, the director says the festival now has a vastly larger scope and format, and the execution is a lot more professional. "The festival is basically coming from the ideas of a fairly young working committee, which is bringing lots of interesting things to the table," he said. This year the street will come alive with three stages, and while there will be a number of dancing groups accompanied by traditional music, organisers are mixing things up with the addition of some 15 bands invited to perform a broad range of music throughout the day so that there's something for everyone. Food has always been at the centre of the event, but for the past few years the program has been taken up a notch. OPINION THEO KANATAS Antonis Remos tour to go ahead As a tribute to Pantelidis Let me first begin by expressing our deep appreciation and gratitude to the Greek Australian community for your heartfelt condolences and the respect and patience you have afforded us in this time of great tragedy and bereavement. You should all be commended and I sincerely thank you. After many discussions and deliberations with Antonis Remos, we have decided to go ahead with all scheduled Australian performances this May. Remos was not only Pantelidis' idol and mentor but also one of his most beloved and respected friends. Remos is of the strong belief that Pantelidis would have wanted us to continue with the show in his honour and as a celebration of his life and immense talent. The concerts will be held as a tribute to this great man who passed away so tragically and all too soon. Unfortunately, we will never hear his angelic voice and soul-wrenching lyrics again but, as a tribute to him, we announce there will be at least two other artists joining Remos on stage to honour his memory and help us say goodbye. The identities of the artists will be an- nounced within the next 48 hours. Although Pantelidis can never be replaced, you can be sure that these artists are among the best in the industry and will do his memory and his music the justice it deserves. For those of you who will attend this tribute concert, your original tickets continue to be valid. For those who require a refund, please contact your point of purchase af- ter 1 March and it will be made available to you. This is going to be an amaz- ing, emotional and befitting way to commemorate an artist who touched all of our hearts and souls. One of the greatest talents the Greek music industry has ever known. Together, let us rejoice in his memory which will live eter- l and befit nally through his music. Once again we thank you immensely for your patience. nally through his music Kind regards. * Theo Kanatas runs Eleven 11 Pty Ltd - building services and Juggernaut Entertainment Pty Ltd Lonsdale Street will soon be home to the first Goody’s Burger House restaurant, situated on the ground floor of the Greek Cultural Centre. PHOTO: WORLD FRANCHISE CENTRE. The food selection is now curated, with stallholders often invited to take part, to give festivalgoers more variety, with a focus on tasty Greek and Cypriot street foods. But don't fret, Mr Menidis promises that all your festival favourites will still be there! For the fourth year running, there will also be a number of cooking demonstrations with a broader range than ever before. Such additions to the event will see the setup altered this year to give the street more of an authentic Greek feel. "Where we normally have all the rides, we've extended our stalls all the way to Swanston Street, so it's a longer offering. We've removed as many of the stalls from the middle of the street as we can and put tables and chairs, so people can sit down and enjoy an afternoon and it becomes like a plateia for the weekend," Mr Menidis explained. While the festival continues to be a great opportunity for people of all ages to engage with their Greek heritage, a big part of the event, significantly benefited by its central location, is that a huge number of non-Greeks get involved, both as stallholders and volunteers. "There are thousands who come to Lonsdale Street and the vast majority of them aren't Greek. They're there to have a look at what the Greek Festival's about. You look at the entrance for competitions like Zorba 'Til You Drop and there's quite a number of people there who aren't Greek, who are rehearsing," he says. "It's a festival celebrating being Greek to an extent, but it's in the middle of Melbourne in a cosmopolitan and multicultural city. So it's important that we appeal to everyone." Though the street festival is well received each year, as the event turns 29, the director admits there is of- ten great expectation placed upon the Antipodes to be a bigger than it ultimately is. "For some reason, people put the burden on a street festival as a panacea to all things cultural; that somehow a street festival is meant to convey every aspect of Greek culture to the world, when all it really is, is a party. It's a stamp on the footprint of the city to say we're here, and we're happy to be here, and we're proud of who we are. It's not meant to be a critically reviewed event," said Mr Menidis. "At the end of the day, all we want is for people to come into town and have a good time."
20 February 2016
5 March 2016