Cultures in the Manning Festival

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Cultures in the Manning is a very special festival celebrating the multicultural nature of the Manning Valley through food, art, dance and music. A hardworking committee has been busy organising the many activities planned for festival day on May 14th … here, they share some of the many highlights …

Introduce yourselves to our readers please …

Jane O’Dwyer: Migrant Settlement worker at Manning Valley Neighbourhood Services (MVNS); Rachel Piercy: Acting Art Gallery Director at Manning Regional Art Gallery; and Amita Krautloher: Lecturer at Charles Sturt University.

Share with us the history of the Cultures in the Manning Festival … How/when was the original idea initiated?

In 2013 the Gallery held the first Indian Film Festival and MVNS held the first Africa Comes to the Manning Festival. In 2014 the Gallery and MVNS teamed up to hold the second Africa Comes to the Manning Festival. This was very successful, with the community asking for more.

So the partnership continued last year with the Asia in the Manning Festival. This was again a great success, being well attended by the community and involving a lot of our multicultural community.

When you are onto a good thing, you just keep going, so last year we decided we would like to have a festival that was inclusive of all the cultures we have in our community. With over 100 cultures here in the Manning, it’s impossible of course to represent them all, but we are doing our best with the Cultures in the Manning Festival.

What are the aims of the festival?

The festival is about bringing community together. It is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the presence and contribution of various cultures through food, art, dance and music.

Increasingly the Manning Valley is becoming more diverse, bringing a cultural richness to the area. Events such as this are an opportunity to promote harmony and inclusion by giving people a firsthand experience of the cultures through the activities at the festival.

Where/when will the festival be celebrated this year?

The festival will be on the 14th May from 9am – 3pm at the Manning Regional Art Gallery, 12 Macquarie St, Taree.

The festival seeks to showcase Aboriginal and migrant cultures within the Manning area. What are some of the planned activities that will highlight this?

The festival will explore aspects of culture through dance, music, food and art. There will be dance and music performances going on throughout the day. People will be able to browse the art and craft stalls, which will include Deep Water Shark Gallery and other Aboriginal artists, Honest Exchange, a fair trade stall, Tibetan handicrafts stall and more.

People can watch Andy Snelgar, who is an Ngemba artist; he  will be demonstrating traditional Aboriginal carving techniques from the south-east. After lunch we will have cooking demonstrations of Indonesian, Filipino and Russian food. There will also be a weaving and craft activities running all day for people to have a go at.

Who are some of the special guests at this year’s festival?

We have a packed programme with lots of guests, including the Waang Djarii Biripi Dance Group, Thai lady dancers, Dr Prem Singh performing Indian folk music, children from St Joseph’s Primary school will perform Filipino dance and a cultural dress fashion parade, Jack will play traditional Chinese violin, the Lazarka International Folk Dancing will perform Russian folk dance, Wingham Pipes and Drums band, Wingsong Choir and Afro Moses will perform.

Is this a “family friendly” festival? What refreshments/facilities will be available for both adults and children?

This is definitely a family friendly festival. We want families to be able to relax and enjoy the entertainment and check out the stalls. Catholic Care will be providing a free kids’ activities table for the younger crowd, and TAFE will be running a free interactive stall for the older kids and adults.

There will also be a community weaving and art activity, which everyone is welcome to join in. The entertainment will be ongoing all day, with cooking demonstrations starting after lunch from 1:30pm. Andy Snelgar, as mentioned previously, will be demonstrating his carving techniques for a couple of hours during the day and of course, there will be lots of food! There will be Japanese, Lao, Indian, German, Lebanese and Thai – something for everyone. Janeece will also be there with her famous Wild Fig coffee and cake.

Who would you like to thank for making this festival possible?

We would like to thank the many volunteers who have been involved this year. It has been fantastic to have returning volunteers such as Amita Krautloher, who has been involved since the beginning.

Liz Rankin, Susie Ploder and parents from St Joseph’s Primary School continue to support the festival involving the children from the school, which is always fantastic.

Catholic Care is again providing our free kids’ activities, and the TAFE ESL class are providing a free interactive stall.

Of course, we would like to thank the many members of the local Aboriginal and multicultural community who have given their time and shared their culture with us through food, dance, music and art.

Where can readers register their interest in attending, or find out more info?

Everyone can just turn up on the day, and closer to the event we will have a detailed programme of the day’s activities on the gallery and MVNS website at www.manningregionalartgallery.com.au or at www.mvns.org.au.

If people have any questions, they can ring the gallery on 6592 5455 or MVNS on 6553 5121.

Thanks everyone.

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