Scene News: Multicultural Arts Victoria Presents – Emerge in Yarra

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.

Festival listing details:

Saturday 18 June, 3pm-5pm
Slow Stylin’
Workshop: sustainable fashion & tote making The Social Studio, 128 Smith St, Collingwood
$15 full / $10 conc (

Sunday 19 June – Saturday 25 June
Zohreh Izadikia at The Ownership Project
Exhibition by Iranian painter incorporating traditional Persian designs with realistic scenes depicting displacement and loss
The Ownership Project, 1/110 Johnston St, Fitzroy
Opening hours: 12noon-5pm

Monday 20 June, 7pm
Cookin’ Up Community with Jaime Wilson-Ramirez
Storytelling, theatre and cooking demonstration of Chilean delicacy Atherton Gardens Community Kitchen, 125 Napier St, Fitzroy
$15 full / $10 conc (

Monday 20 June & Wednesday 22 June, 6.30pm
Future Us
Projection / video art by local Yarra youth from Cubbies and LiveWires Atherton Gardens Housing Estate, 125 Napier St, Fitzroy

Tuesday 21 June, 7pm
Amataga O Le Alofa
Theatre, Music and Storytelling by Melbourne’s Samoan community Richmond Theatrette, 415 Church St, Richmond
$10 concession/$15 full (

Wednesday 22 June, 7pm
Refugee Week: An Interactive Performance
Presented by Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria & Melbourne Playback Theatre Fitzroy Town Hall, Reading Room, 201 Napier St, Fitzroy
FREE (bookings:

Wednesday 22 June, 7pm
Cookin’ Up Community with Abe Nouk & Ajak Kwai
Storytelling, theatre and cooking demonstration of South Sudanese delicacy Atherton Gardens Community Kitchen, 125 Napier St, Fitzroy
$15 full / $10 conc (

Thursday 23 June, 7pm
Common Ground
Interfaith spoken word and improvised music
Richmond Theatrette, 415 Church St, Fitzroy
$15 full / $10 conc (

Friday 24 June, 7pm
Emerge in Yarra Comedy Gala
With comedians Shannan Lim & Vidya Rajan, Shiralee Hood, Dilruk Jayasinha, Sami Shah $15 / $10 (

Saturday 25 June, 7.30pm
Nhatty Man & Gara – Selam album launch
Music, dance and circus by talented artists from Melbourne’s Ethiopian, Iranian and Senegambian communities Melba Speigeltent, 35 Johnson St, Collingwood
$10 general admission at the door or presale (+bf) (


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