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Refugee musicians begin new lives

Musicians forging new lives in Australia will take centre stage in November at a free festival showcasing the creative talents of newly arrived artists: the New Beginnings Festival in Spring.

Making it in the creative sector is challenging but particularly so for artists who are new to Australia, navigating a new language and culture, while trying to re-establish their personal and professional networks.

On November 18 from 12—7pm, the New Beginnings Festival in Spring will give artists from refugee and migrant backgrounds the opportunity to showcase their talents to an audience of thousands at Sydney’s iconic Darling Harbour.

Taking to the stage will be musicians and performers including:

  • 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 Australia. It’s a chance for newly arrived artists to develop their talent and get to know more about Australia’s creative sector,” 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.”

In addition to live music and dance performances, the New Beginnings Festival in Spring will also include kids’ workshops and food and market stalls that showcase the rich cultural heritage of newly arrived community members.

“This is a chance for the entire community to come together and celebrate hope, unity and new beginnings!” said Ms Triana.

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.


Event starts
Saturday 18 November, 2017
Event Ends
Saturday 18 November, 2017
Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour

New South Wales, Sydney

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