28 June 2022

Multicultural Festival to make triumphant return next year for silver anniversary after COVID-hiatus

| Lottie Twyford
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The 2020 National Multicultural Festival was the last time large crowds gathered to celebrate the much-beloved event. Photos: Thomas Lucraft.

A 2023 date has finally been set for the 25th anniversary of Canberra’s National Multicultural Festival.

After two cancellations due to the pandemic, the government is this time hoping it’s a case of third time lucky.

And they say big things are coming.

Now slated to go ahead over the weekend of Friday, 17 February to Sunday, 19 February, the festival will be even larger than usual with stalls and performances taking place not only in the city but also in Glebe Park.

Tara Cheyne

Minister for Multicultural Affairs Tara Cheyne said last year she had not taken the decision to cancel the 2022 iteration of the festival lightly. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Minister for Multicultural Affairs Tara Cheyne said she was excited the iconic community event was back on the calendar.

“Canberra is a proudly multicultural and inclusive city, and the National Multicultural Festival is the embodiment of this – a three-day event where multicultural communities showcase and share their culture, history and heritage through food, art, song and dance,” she said,

“It’s an event that is close to many people’s hearts. I’m pleased to share the expanded festival footprint and dates for next year’s celebration as we know that multicultural groups across the ACT spend months planning stalls, preparing workshops and practising performances.”

The Minister thanked the National Multicultural Community Panel Reference Group whose support she said had been invaluable in planning for the anniversary.

The 2023 event will once again be supported by the City Renewal Authority.

The pool of available festival grants will this year be doubled from $90,000 to $180,000. Applications for these grants open on 25 July.

Ms Cheyne hoped this would allow for even greater community participation.

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The ACT Government decided not to go ahead with this year’s festival in November 2021.

At the time, Ms Cheyne said that decision had not been taken lightly. Planning had already been underway for the event when the Territory went into lockdown last year, but that had thrown things into disarray.

In particular, the re-deployment of the entire festival planning team to work on the public health response had thrown a spanner in the works.

Nevertheless, some of the funding allocated to the festival had instead been redistributed to multicultural organisations via EventsACT to assist them with smaller showcases, fundraising and holding other cultural activities.

For India-Australia Association of Canberra president Sandi Mitra, next February can’t come soon enough.

“I was comfortable with the government making the decision last year not to go ahead with the festival as we just weren’t sure what the health restrictions would be like,” he said.

“But this time, I think people will be much more comfortable with coming out and enjoying themselves.”

For now, Mr Mitra will be busy preparing for the event – which he’s optimistic will go ahead.

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