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The multicultural performing arts festival is back on, full strength
One of the state’s largest multicultural festivals, Parramasala, will remain a feature on the Western Sydney cultural calendar for at least the next four years.
On Thursday 9 June, NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Multiculturalism John Ajaka announced that the NSW Government has committed $1.6 million over four years in the 2016-17 Budget to secure Parramasala.
“We live in one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world and Parramasala is an event that celebrates our differences and encourages community harmony,” Mr Baird said in a statement. “Now in its seventh year, Parramasala continues to grow, and attracts tens of thousands of people each year to Parramatta and Harris Park in Western Sydney.”
He added, “This is a much anticipated event and we’re proud to support its return to Western Sydney until 2019.”
“Parramasala is an energetic, vibrant and colourful celebration of Indian and South Asian customs, traditions and cuisines and also welcomes contributions from all multicultural communities,” Mr Ajaka said.
“It’s only fitting that one of the state’s premier multicultural festivals is held in Parramatta, the geographic and cultural heart of Sydney.”
Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism and Member for Parramatta Dr Geoff Lee echoed these sentiments. “I am pleased the NSW Government is supporting this much-anticipated event that turns Parramatta into a dazzling sea of colour and music. The commitment for four years is great news. It will help us to continue to build the festival not just for the Indian community but for all others as well.”
Dr Lee has been a regular visitor at the annual event. “One of my favourite memories from Parramasala is the event in Harris Park, where the street was blocked off with the stage in the middle. It was sensational. The buzz of it all was wonderful.”
Chairman of Parramasala Dr G.K Harinath OAM said, “This funding commitment will allow us to make Parramasala bigger and better than ever before.”
This is an announcement that the community will welcome heartily.
But now that Parramasala is back on full strength, the debate will continue, this time about the kind of acts that will be picked. Early versions of Parramasala brought out the best of the industry from South Asia and the diaspora, whereas later versions picked from home-grown talent. Last year of course, the talent pool was extended beyond South Asian borders, in a move that won detractors as well as devotees. Should Parramasala remain true to its Indian/subcontinental roots, or risk becoming diluted to a kind of ‘Parramasalata’, trying to be too many things to too many different people?
Last year’s version was touch-and-go, as the brand faced liquidation. A last minute infusion of funds came perhaps too late for quality acts to be invited, and it all failed to connect. This time round again, there’s less than six months to go, and we hope the preparations are on at full speed.
Perhaps a suggestion would be to move the date to earlier in the year rather than in October-November. This year in particular, the spring calendar is already very packed with events, including the first India Festival held by the Government of India in all major cities in Australia, as well as Diwali. Could Parramasala be held in March, for instance, and become a marquee festival as part of the Multicultural March celebrations?