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Emerge 1 

Emerge in Yarra commemorates World Refugee Week and celebrates the artistic and cultural diversity of Yarra with a weeklong festival from 18-25 June across the City of Yarra.

In 2016, the Festival spans a multitude of workshops, theatre performances, cooking demonstrations, live music, storytelling, spoken word, comedy and conversations. The festival begins with a slow fashion experience by Fitzroy’s social enterprise, The Social Studio, leading into an exhibition opening by Iranian/Australian contemporary artist Zohreh Izadikia at The Ownership Project exploring traditional Persian designs, displacement and loss.

The popular Cookin’ Up Community at the Atherton Gardens this year incorporate special storytelling, theatre and spoken word experiences with the cooking demonstrations – one lead by Chilean theatre director Jaime Wilson-Ramirez, and the other with poetic maestros Abe Nouk and Ajak Kwai. A revival of Island Theatre by Melbourne’s Samoan community featuring Nesian Pearl, Tama Tatau, Melbourne Samoan Choir and playwright Delsa Evotia Tuitea, comes together in a one night showcase, Amataga o le Alofa, weaving a story on love and jealousy.

Mid-week, the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) and Melbourne Playback Theatre return with the opportunity to share stories and experiences to create a series of improvised musical and theatrical skits in an interactive performance. Thursday 23 June brings a special showcase of music and poetry telling a story of identity, belonging, migration, nostalgia, peace and conflict in an evening performance of participants from MAV’s flagship interfaith spoken word program Common Ground.

The participants include Common Ground facilitators Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa and Abdul Hammoud accompanied by the improvised music of Indian Bansuri maestro Vinod Prasanna, Senegambian kora player Amadou Suso, Hazara Damboora player Murtaza Jafari and Javanese vocalist and percussionist Ria Soemardjo. At the end of the week on Friday 24 June, the annual Emerge Comedy Gala is back!

The night brings together five distinct comedians, smashing stereotypes with humour, while dissecting our cultural identity with the eagle eye only a comedian can boast of having. Featuring comedians: Shannan Lim & Vidya Rajan, Shiralee Hood, Dilruk Jayasinha, Sami Shah. And on the Festival’s closing night, Saturday 25 June, Ethiopian pop sensation Nhatty Man & his band, Gara (the mountains) launch their debut album Selam supported by the Senegambian Jazz Band, circus artist Yonnas Abay, Ethio-Jazz pianist Daniel Atlaw and Saxophone maestro Soloman Sisay, Persian songstress Saharnaz Kia, roving acts and dance troupes.

This is a night not to be missed featuring Ethiopian roots, reggae, Afro-Jazz, circus and dance amongst the magical setting of Circus Oz’s Melba Speigeltent! Emerge in Yarra takes place on the traditional lands of the Wurrundjeri People of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respect to elders past and present and recognise their continuing spiritual, physical and cultural connection to the land. 

Founded in 2004 as a platform for artists in MAV’s Visible Music Mentoring Program, the festival has since grown to encompass talented artists from refugee and emerging communities across the city, diverse art forms, new collaborations and commissioned works. The festival is timed to coincide with the United Nations World Refugee Day and Refugee Week and celebrates the ever-expanding contributions artists from all sectors of our diverse society have made in building Melbourne’s unique creative landscape and the cultural fabric of Victoria. Emerge in Yarra is supported by Creative Victoria, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Australia Council for the Arts, City of Yarra, PBS 106.7FM, Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, Neighbourhood Justice Centre, The Ownership Project, The Social Studio, Cultivating Community, Melbourne Playback Theatre and Pacific Island Creative Arts Australia.