Antipodes Festival 2022 Big Festival, Big Unveiling, Big Announcements
Antipodes Festival 2022 Big Festival, Big Unveiling, Big Announcements
After missing out in its traditional calendar spot in 2021 and early in 2022, the much loved Antipodes Festival dodged the worst of the rain to stage a festival that was big in so many ways.
Tens of thousands of patrons flocked to the historic Greek heart of Melbourne to lap up the vibe, sample the food and enjoy the atmosphere created by the 500+ performers and 80+ stalls that were programmed in the festival.
Thousands of visitors flocked in the city to enjoy the amazing vibe of the festival, meet with friends, and spend time with the family. Over 80 pop up market stalls, Greek food stalls, competitions, rides and much more, alongside three stages featuring over 500 performers and about 70+ hours of entertainment showcased Greek culture.
The Festival’s program featured music that crossed a range of genres including rock, traditional forms to contemporary Greek pop, the anticipated traditional Greek dancing, shadow puppetry (Karagiozi), competitions, cooking demonstrations and roaming entertainment.
The highlight of the Festival’s program was the Saturday evening performance of Greek singing superstar Nikos Vertis. A huge crowd flocked to the Festival’s Bendigo bank stage to see Verti’s spectacular show and were not left disappointed.
As has become a tradition, the Festival was well supported by a large cohort of public officials who were keen to express their support for the festival and the Greek community at large.
Key amongst the speakers was the Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews who announced an increase by his Government of support for the festival over the next four years. He committed $800,000 to be paid in $200,000 annual instalments and praised the Greeks of Melbourne saying “It is great to be here in one of the great Greek cities of the world. Athens, Thessaloniki and Melbourne. Great Greek cities of the world!” the Premier said. ”We of course gather here to celebrate all that the Greeks have given us. All that the Greeks have given us in Melbourne, in Victoria, in Australia and across the world
Then somewhat unexpectedly but as had been planned the Premier invited the crowd to turn to the Greek Centre opposite the Main Stage and called for the unveiling the replica of the Parthenon Marbles that had just been installed on the Greek Centre balcony façade to the approval of the crowd.
The Frieze is a replica carved from marble by Greek sculptors from the Kalamata based Art of Marble. The Frieze is one of the only sanctioned replicas carved from marble as close to the original works as has been endorsed by the Greek Ministry of Culture. The Frieze which depicts a procession of tribute to the Goddess Athena and will adorn the Greek Centre of Contemporary Culture’s balcony, took over 18 months to be hand carved and were funded in the main by the Victorian Government.
Visiting from Greece, the Greek Junior Minister for Home Defence, Nikos Chardalias, took to the podium saying (in Greek) “I want you to know this. Our country is a protagonist, powerful and equipped with a defence force that is well aware it needs to be alert. We seek friendship, we seek peace, we seek good neighbourly relations, but above everything, our territorial sovereignty remains unnegotiable.” The Greek Minister was visibly moved from his visit to the festival saying “It might sound like a cliché but I want to tell you that I am very moved to be here today. Amongst people whose gaze is full of love for their homeland, full of memories that made Australia a second home for them. People who have excelled, people who have created new families, a new home but never forgot where they came from, their roots, our values, our ideals.”
The State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy shared the Premier’s commitment saying: “Whatever happens at the end of the year at the election, this committee, who runs this wonderful event, will receive $800,000 to keep it running as you would expect.” Mr Guy also said “We want you to be a part of our city’s future as you have been in the past, to know that Melbourne, as one of the world’s greatest Greek cities, has its best days ahead of it, not behind it.”
Federal Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs the Hon Andrew Giles representing the Albanese Government also addressed the crowd saying: ”When I think about modern Australia I think about a country which was built by immigration and when I think about our city I think about a city that’s been in large build and enlivened by Greek migration.”
The City of Melbourne was represented at the official Opening by the Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece who said “What a day, what a crowd. We all know that the Greek Community knows how to celebrate and isn't it amazing to see you all here celebrating Greek Melbourne again: "We are very proud at the City of Melbourne to support the Antipodes Festival we have supported it for many many years and we are going to support it for many years to come"
Representing the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, Bishop for the District of Melbourne His Grace Bishop Kyriakou warmly addressed the large crowd saying “Grace Bishop Kyriakou " My hope is that this festival will be an absolute success for the honour, edification, and blessing of us all. The Greek Festival Antipodes has now established itself as one of the most important cultural events of the Greek people here in Melbourne. Events of this kind highlight the radiance of Greece worldwide"
Also visiting form Greece the Mayor of Kalamata, Athanasios Vasilopoulos took to the microphone to express his experience saying: "I can’t describe in words what I have felt the last few days. In Melbourne I saw a Greece outside of Greece but more vibrant, more creative and more humane.”
Finally the President of the GCM Bill Papastergiadis OAM along with welcoming the return of the Festival and other cultural programming by the GCM, returned to the newly unveiled Frieze in his speech saying: ”The replicas of the Parthenon Frieze that adorn our 15-storey cultural centre are a direct link with our cultural heritage. The Frieze is a strong symbol of Hellenic culture in Melbourne. We thank the State Government, the Greek Ministry of Culture and the kind donations and support by the Tsalikidis family, the Koukouvitakis and Karamitos families, as well as Merkon Constructions in helping achieve this symbolic installation. Importantly we thank the Greek sculptors, Kostandinos Vousis and Panagiotis Vasilakis for their diligent expertise and skilled work.”
Mr Papastergiadis, revealed that the Frieze has remained in part purposely unfinished under the direction of the Ministry of Culture of Greece, to represent the stolen sculptures housed at the British and other Museums around the world. “It’s a message to the British Museum and other institutions that we want them back, and when they come back, we’ll fill in the missing piece.”
Joining the official party on stage were Victorian Minister the Hon Steve Dimopoulos, Victorian Government members Nick Staikos, Lee Tarlamis, Kat Theophanous and Nina Taylor, Chair of the Victorian Multicultural Commission Vivian Nguyen, the Consul General of Greece in Melbourne Mr Emmanuel Kakavelakis, His Grace Bishop Evmenios of the District of Northcote, Members of the Greek Armed forces accompanying the visiting Greek Minister, Liberal Party state candidates and Greek Community Melbourne Board members.
The Official opening was followed by the feature performance of Nikos Vertis to ap packed Antipodes Festival crowd.