More than 30 cultures will be celebrated in a free family-friendly festival that takes over Wollongong CBD on Saturday.
Culture Mix is designed to be a big free party with live music, dance, workshops, art installations, cooking workshops plus food from around the world from 12pm to 8pm on October 21. There will also be AUSLAN interpreters at various events, and other types of accessibility options.
Amro Zoabe works for Illawarra Multicultural Services and was part of the advisory group consulted for Culture Mix, and he was brimming with enthusiasm as he believed it would showcase the "spirit of Australia".
"If you look around, we all come from many different countries, from many different backgrounds and we all have different stories - some were born here, some were children here, some arrived very recently ... this festival is a great opportunity for them to showcase all their talents," he said.
"In one small city, Wollongong captures literally the spirit of Australia."
Mr Zoabe left war-torn Syria for a better life in 2013, with his family eventually settling in the "welcoming" community of Wollongong in 2016, and said the move was made easier by the friendliness of the people.
"Everyone around here is my friend, and I can confidently say that it was so easy to fit in and it was really easy to feel accepted and to feel like I am part of the community," he said.
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the festival was a time to celebrate "what it is to be human in Wollongong" and say goodbye to troubled years of pandemic restrictions.
"[We are] living in a relatively peaceful and ... well-resourced community, and we're able to celebrate what's been achieved [and] respect the diversity of our community which enriches us," he said.
Check out the program below.
12pm to 6pm, 90 Crown Street and Lower Mall. Step into the cultural kitchen and be inspired with five signature dishes to be presented by community-based groups for people to watch, learn and taste.
Enjoy cooking demonstrations and workshops on how to make each dish and you may even get a delicious sample to taste at the end like rice paper rolls, Persian kebabs, Thai sticky rice and banana,South American Asado plus Serbian Cevapi.
12pm to 8pm, Lower Crown Street. Think of it like an international Eat Street market with a variety of stalls serving up tasty foods from around the world including; Australian Natives, Chilean, Iranian, Karenni, Nepalese, Serbian, Sri Lankan, Syrian and Turkish.
12pm to 8pm, in front of 84 Crown Street. A diverse range of community dance groups, choirs and children's groups will take to the "Food Fair Stage" on Crown Street (near the corner of Kembla Street).
12pm to 7pm, Wollongong Art Gallery, BlueScope Room. The Women's Space provides a safe and private space for cross-cultural women to connect through a series of interactive workshops and performances. Open to women and girls of all-abilities aged children to adults.
Activities include creative art workshop and installation, Macedonian women's traditional dance performance, the Tender Women's Choir, Bollywood dance workshop, traditional African dancing and storytelling, watch and learn Persian dance session, DJ Bria mixing global music.
There are creative sessions and activities at Town Hall (12-8pm), Wollongong Art Gallery (12-7pm) and Wollongong Library (12-7.30pm). Inside the Town Hall will be six local artists creating works in the foyer where the public can join in too. Over at the Music Lounge will be an array of activities and workshops like: a drumming circle, Colombian songs and rhythms, North Indian classical music, Macedonian songs, Maori songs and ukulele, a dance battle, poetry, and ending the day with a Karaoke World Cup.
The Wollongong Art Gallery will host workshops in Islamic tile design and Chinese ink painting. Inside the library there will be activities like: the Korean Haenyeo Show, a sensory puppet show, K-Pop dance workshops, poetry, Indigenous weaving workshop, Japanese musical workshop (suited for blind or low vision), and sushi making. The library will also have "traditional games" with an AUSLAN interpreter from 1pm to 3pm in the foyer.
12pm to 8pm, Arts Precinct, Burelli Street. From Persia to South America to the Cook Islands, nations of the world will be celebrated in Wollongong wotj various performances in the Arts Precinct (near IPAC).
12pm to 8pm, Lower Crown Street, adjacent to Ha Long Bay. This stage will offer a global soundtrack for you while you eat, drink and shop in Lower Crown. Take delight in authentic cultural music styles and contemporary interpretations of world music.
2.15pm to 5pm, Wollongong Uniting Church, 116 Crown Street. There will be a few performances at Wesley Church for all to enjoy. Catch the Wollongong Con Junior String Orchestra from 2.15pm to 2.35pm, and Soprano Aye Gknur Shanal and pianist David Vance from 4pm to 5pm.
12pm - 8pm, Lower Crown Street and 12pm - 6pm, Lower Mall. A "cultural bazaar" market will be found on the lower part of Crown Street and the mall and will be filled with global arts and crafts, with a strong focus on Aboriginal culture and crafts. Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation will also be running mural, beading and earring making workshops for you to take part in.
12pm to 6.30pm, Lower Crown Street Mall. This all-ages, all abilities interactive space will be brought to life with a dancefloor, DJ sets of global music, and dance lessons. If you need to take a break from the global dance party, immerse yourself in the nearby demonstrations and workshops.
7.30pm to 8.30pm, IPAC. MerrigongX presents uNCOILED eXposed by AUSTI Dance and Physical Theatre. According to the group's founder, Michelle Forte, this dance performance challenges stereotypical norms and expectations of gender and beauty, explores the emotional turbulence of cultural reconnection and identity and questions the psychological conditions of power. It's free to attend, but reservations are essential through Merrigong Theatre's website. There are also two other shows on Thursday October 19 and Friday October 20.
Fore more details, visit: www.wollongong.nsw.gov.au/explore/art-and-culture/culture-mix
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