The National Multicultural Festival broke all records this year, and the ACT Government has now earmarked an additional $3.3 million in funding for the much-loved event in the upcoming budget to be allocated across the next two years.
The funding boost will help the festival continue to expand its footprint in Canberra and will enable it to increase its grants program funding pool to a record $200,000 – more than double its historic funding pool of $90,000.
The festival has also pledged to continue the freeze on stallholder fees, which have remained the same since 2018, to encourage more multicultural groups and organisations to get involved.
“The National Multicultural Festival achieves twin goals of being a community-driven event that Canberrans love and delivering strong economic returns for our city,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
“The ACT Government is continuing to invest in an event that continues to deliver for Canberrans.”
The Multicultural Festival drew in 380,563 people this year, far surpassing the previous attendance record of 250,000. Around40 per cent of Canberra households attended the festival from 17 to 19 February, and 40,000 people visited from interstate or overseas. According to entertainment industry research firm IER, nearly 18,000 people visited Canberra specifically for the festival in 2023.
This year’s festival included a number of firsts, including hands-on workshops and a dedicated cooking demonstration at the City Walk stage with 15 community and professional chefs sharing their skills and stories across the three days.
A record 170 cultures were represented in 266 stalls, 325 performance groups, 34 workshops, 30 cultural showcases and its largest festival parade ever.
The event brought a substantial boost to the ACT’s economy, including more than 40,000 visitor nights and a total economic benefit of $20.8 million – a considerable increase from the 2020 figures of 22,000 and $12.2 million.
It’s hoped that the funding boost will help the festival come back bigger and better when it returns on 16 to 18 February 2024.
“The 2023 Festival was special in so many ways, including that it set a new standard,” Minister for Multicultural Affairs Tara Cheyne said.
She said the funding will enable the festival to continue to grow after it expanded into Glebe Park this year. Next year’s event will continue to utilise the space to give festivalgoers more to enjoy and to ease congestion.
“I am so pleased that, following the strength of such wonderful feedback in 2023, this funding allows us to continue the expanded Festival footprint in the city and into Glebe Park.”
Shortly after this year’s Multicultural Festival, Ms Cheyne said moving the event was “something we have been reflecting on” as it gets bigger and bigger.
“These are future decisions for government, but we’ll be looking at the feedback we’ve received anecdotally from store holders, businesses and residents as we prepare for the festival in 2024,” she said.
Most importantly, the funding will also allow the ACT Government to continue to support the people that make the festival possible – its many participants and volunteers.
“We also know the Festival could not be delivered without the incredible contribution from our stallholders, performers, volunteers and community leaders,” Ms Cheyne said.
“This funding ensures we are continuing to support our vibrant and strong multicultural community in showcasing why we are recognised as a truly welcoming city.”