The Greek Festival of Sydney is one of Australia's
largest and longest running annual cultural events and is the most attended
Greek-Australian community event in NSW. Over the last 21 years The Festival
has played a key role in providing a forum for showcasing a multitude of
Greek and multi-cultural expressions by featuring the finest Greek-Australian
talent alongside the most acclaimed Greek artists in the world today. In
March 2004 the Greek Festival of Sydney (GFoS) will celebrate its 22nd year
as one of Sydney's premier cultural events.
The Festival is a cultural celebration of Greek-Australian
lifestyle, culture and heritage however its appeal is much broader reflecting
the rich and diverse multicultural nature of Australia and it has evolved
into the most prestigious and important Greek-Australian community event
The Festival, traditionally a three or four week
celebration, combines high caliber ticketed events with popular free events
such as the festival's flagship event, the Street Fair, which attracts
over 30,000 people annually.
The Greek Festival of Sydney was established in 1980 by the Greek Community
Council, a body representing all the major Greek organisations of the
time. In a climate sympathetic to multiculturalism, it arose out of the
Greek Community's need to express and to maintain cultural and artistic
practices. The festival sought to do this through a variety of cultural
events such as theatrical performances, concerts, lectures, film screenings
etc, aiming to promote Greek culture not just within the Greek Community
but also within the broader context of the Australian community.
The Festival is funded by The Greek Orthodox Community of NSW (GOC). One
of the primary aims of the GOC is to not only meet its members' cultural
and artistic aspirations but to showcase the very best of Greek and Greek-Australian
Culture to a wide audience.
Greece has been stamping its cultural identity on the world for centuries
and its culture is becoming more and more entrenched in contemporary and
mainstream Australia (Sydney has one of the largest Greek populations
of any city in any country in the world - including Greece!). This is
largely due to Greece's remarkably rich cultural diversity, artistic energy
and passion for entertainment as well as the emergence and influence of
Greek-Australians within the Australian artistic and cultural scene.
Cultural diversity is an intrinsic part of Australian society. Celebrating
this diversity in the form of an arts festival further legitimises it
and provides an enormous boost to the collective self-esteem of the Greek
With the emergence of these second and third generation Greek/Australians
has come the need to create hybrid cultural expressions, which draw their
inspiration not only from the shared migrant experience of previous generations
but also from a sense of identity which incorporates Greek roots with
contemporary Australian experiences. Increasingly, Greek-Australians are
looking outward rather than inward - confidently, if self-consciously
acknowledging that they are part of the Diaspora while attempting to distil
the essence of their Greekness in an Australian context. As the prestige
of the event grows, it is also attracting more and more the attention
of mainstream academics and artists.
The Greek Festival has played a key role in providing a forum for showcasing
these cultural expressions and aspirations. Over the years, the Festival
has seen a vast increase in the diversity of the program of events. This
has been matched by a growth in attendance estimated at around 50,000
participants annually - representing a four-fold increase in the last
The long-term aim of the Festival and the Greek Orthodox Community is
to establish a permanent cultural centre to ensure continuity in the artistic
life of future generations of Greek Australians and their fellow citizens.
Many realities for migrant communities have started as dreams. Let us
hope this is no exception!