24 July 2023

'Footprint has changed' for Multicultural Festival and it may be forced to move from the city

| Ian Bushnell
Join the conversation
2023 National Multicultural Festival Canberra

The city is home to Canberra’s Multicultural Festival, but change is coming. Photo: National Multicultural Festival Facebook.

The National Multicultural Festival may have to expand further into Glebe Park or move entirely from the city in two years as major developments impinge on the current festival footprint.

Multicultural Affairs Minister Tara Cheyne told Budget Estimates that the festival had only been funded for the next two years due to light rail, major development at Garema Place and the coming Canberra Theatre redevelopment, necessitating changes to where the festival will be located.

READ ALSO New life breathed into Lyneham’s iconic winter-time community lantern walk

She said this would also have an impact on how the festival would be funded.

“We have a fair idea what it would look like over the next two years but that gives us an opportunity to effectively look again at the footprint, where we might need to go or expand and what the costs associated with that might be,” Ms Cheyne said.

She said under questioning from Liberal MLA Mark Parton that Civic would remain the home of the festival “definitely for the next two years”.

“But we have to review the fest footprint every year and we have been doing that,” she said.

“The footprint has changed, there will be major changes to Civic Square and Garema Place so we’ll be working through in years to come exactly what that footprint is.”

Ms Cheyne admitted to being nervous about how the Glebe Park expansion would be received but said it had been a success with the community.

She indicated that expanding further into the park was on the table.

“We’re in a portion of Glebe Park so there may be some opportunities there as well as we consider what the footprint is in the future,” Ms Cheyne.

She said the city offered many benefits, including being able to interact with businesses and have multiple stages.

Ms Cheyne would not be drawn on whether the festival might have to move altogether from Civic as developments proceed, saying that was hypothetical.

When pressed about whether any consideration was being given to a relocation, she said: “Not at this stage.”

Ms Cheyne told Estimates that the 2023 festival was the best ever and had set the benchmark for future events.

She said it generated $20.8 million for the ACT economy, up significantly from the 2022 figure of $12.2 million, and attracted more than 40,000 visitor nights with an average stay of 2.2 nights.

Post-festival market research also showed that people were happy with the event, with 92 per cent of visitors to the event satisfied or very satisfied and a 10 per cent increase in the number of visitors who rated it five stars out of five.

Ms Cheyne said the expanded site was well received, saying it was a big festival but did not feel crowded, helped by the reorientation of the stalls so queues did not bump into each other.

She said there were more communities participating than ever before and more showcases, 30 up from the previous 10 or 12.

The value of grants had doubled to $180,000 and would be increased to $200,000 next year.

READ ALSO Procurement revelations pose multi-million-dollar questions for ACT Government

Pressed by Liberal Peter Cain about the cost of stalls, Ms Cheyne said that had been held at 2018 levels and would be the same next year.

Mr Cain also questioned Ms Cheyne on an election promise to build a new multicultural facility at Exhibition Park, and in a testy exchange accused her of breaking that promise.

Ms Cheyne said the refurbishment of the Fitzroy Pavilion would meet that promise, and it would be completed within 12 months.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
HiddenDragon8:17 pm 26 Jul 23

A government which is regularly engaged in contortions trying to confect in Canberra the “vibrancy” which they see in places they obviously wish they had grown up in, and/or now lived in, gets a brief, small dose of it and they’re not quite sure they can cope – because real people, unlike the imaginary people in illustrated planning documents, tend to be a bit messy and inconvenient.

This is their usual Utopia karaoke act with a distinct echo of the Yes, Minister episode about the hospital which works so much better without patients.

The Multicultural Festival has come a long way from being held at the courtyard of the ACT Legislative Assembly to Civic. It’s a nice, exciting atmosphere having it in Civic BUT it’s getting way too crowded these days. Maybe having it at Glebe Park and/or Commonwealth park would be a good option?

I have always hated it in the civic area too cramped. The lake bridge to bridge is 5km and there are 5 continents seems logical. Many large carparks and buses. Just like the 100th birthday on the lake.

The planners need to ensure there is space for a major event venue in Civic rather than the short sighted selling off of large chunks of open air places for quick bucks. If this continues such a great event might be forced out of civic to, say, EPIC.

I don’t like it but maybe Epic would be the best place to have it? The National Folk Festival goes down well there, as does the Canberra Show, Gammacon….

vyt_vilkaitis4:36 pm 25 Jul 23

Lets not move it from the City. The City needs it. Moving to EPIC would make it lose its roots – community. This is not another 4wd expo. This is celebrating Canberra!!

I know and I agree BUT running the Multicultural Festival in Civic is too crowded these days. I love going but with the massive crowds, it’s a turn off for me.

So the minister is saying that an extra 20k vistors each spent thousands of dollars which wasn’t already getting spent.

A few years ago we had less than 7000 hotel rooms in the ACT.

Clearly the minster is counting everyone that visited canberra and putting that figure towards how wonderful the festival was.
I’m guessing that the other areas of the economy had a magical slump of business the same day and that this isn’t counted.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.