Arts & Culture

Successful Aboriginal cultural festival Giiyong gets go ahead for 2020

Lisa Herbert 13 June 2019
An all ages event with great performances, food and music, Giiyong 2018. Photo: David Rogers

An all-ages event with great performances, food and music, Giiyong 2018. Photo: David Rogers.

One clear sun-shiny-day in September 2018, on the shores of pristine Pambula Lake, 6,000 people from far and wide gathered at Jigamy to celebrate new and emerging art, music, performance and more from the world’s oldest culture.

Giiyong (pronounced GUY-YONG) means ‘comes to welcome’ in the language spoken by South Coast elders and the Giiyong Festival lived up to its name, bringing people together, uniting and uplifting them.

South East Arts and Twofold Aboriginal Corporation are pleased to announce Giiyong is back in 2020 and will be held on September 19.

Twofold Aboriginal Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Bird says, “We are excited to start work on the next Giiyong Festival. The last Festival was an amazing event that really brought people together. Twofold is looking forward to working again with South East Arts to pull off a huge celebration in 2020.”

Once again the festival will be held at Jigamy, between Pambula and Eden on the Sapphire Coast.

“Holding a cultural event on an Aboriginal owned property gives Giiyong Festival a power and significance that other locations would struggle to replicate,” says Jazz Williams of South East Arts.

Local hip-hop performer Gabadoo Campbell rocked the crowds and inspired all. Photo: David Rogers

Local hip-hop performer Gabadoo rocked the crowds and inspired all. Photo: David Rogers.

The first Giiyong Festival was a huge success for the organisers, all the participating artists and performers, stall-holders and hundreds of young kids and their families.

The festival featured over 100 Aboriginal musicians, dancers, singers, writers and presenters, ranging from professional acts to community groups.

Hilarious MC Sean Choolburra had the audience in stitches and even invented a new local word – “Pambulance” a twist on Pambula and ambulance, as in “everyone is having such a good time we’ll need to call a Pambulance!”

“Giiyong was an unprecedented moment of large scale unity between black and white in South East NSW,” Ms Williams says.

“The ramifications of that will continue to ripple through our region for a long time and silently strengthen our combined future.”

The first Aboriginal arts and cultural festival of its kind in Southern NSW, Giiyong was the culmination of hard work by a dedicated team from South East Arts, Jigamy, Twofold Aboriginal Corporation and many volunteer technicians, photographers, videographers, artists, dancers, groundsmen, toilet cleaners and rubbish collectors.

Kimberly rapper and MC Dallas Woods with Benny Clark on drums. Photo: David Rogers

Kimberly rapper and MC Dallas Woods with Benny Clark on drums. Photo: David Rogers.

Headline acts in 2018 included Baker Boy, Benny Walker, Frank Yamma, Dallas Woods and the legendary No Fixed Address. They were joined by many of the region’s local musicians, performers, authors and speakers from around Australia including internationally-recognised Bruce Pascoe and Ali Cobby Eckerman.

This family-friendly, all-ages, alcohol-free event also included an arts market and exhibition, traditional foods, film and dance.

As well as the main stages, there were all kinds of side-events and tastings: smoking ceremonies, Uncle Ossie Cruse’s musical gum-leaf workshops, didjeridoo workshops, and great food from a wide selection of stalls including loads of bush tucker and native flavours. People tried fresh abalone and Johnny Cakes for the first time, and kids rushed to workshops with rapper Baker Boy, 2019 Young Australian of the Year.

Local Aboriginal singer Chelsy Atkins along with Corinne Gibbons mentored dozens of school kids and had them singing proudly. Photo: David Rogers

Local Aboriginal singer Chelsy Atkins along with Corinne Gibbons mentored dozens of school kids and had them singing proudly. Photo: David Rogers.

Giiyong Festival provided a vibrant platform for the Aboriginal community locally, and nationally, to showcase and share their culture. The Festival was a day to celebrate diversity and community.

“Performers like Gabadoo, Sassi Nuyum and Nikai Stewart and artists like Cheryl Davison, Natalie Bateman, Allison Simpson and Lee Cruse are just some of the individuals producing top quality work that tells a story and needs to be shared,” says Andrew Gray, General Manager of South East Arts.

Jazz Willliams adds, “the festival offered a rare opportunity for South East audiences to experience the very high calibre of Aboriginal artists and intellectual leaders in this country. It educated people about culture and issues affecting Aboriginal people, and it demonstrated that Aboriginal culture is contemporary, diverse and vibrant right here in South East NSW.”

The Giiyong Festival comes about through personal donations, sponsorship and some grant funding. You can support the event by making a tax-deductible donation online at the South East Arts website.

And circle September 19, 2020, in your diary now!

Giiyong Festival is coming back in 2020

South East Arts and Twofold Aboriginal Corporation are excited to announce that Giiyong Festival is coming back! Lock in 19 September 2020 at Jigamy, near Eden on the Sapphire Coast of NSW. In September 2018, the south east NSW's first multi-arts Aboriginal Festival took place at Jigamy. We can't wait to bring it back in 2020. Giiyong Festival comes about through sponsorship, funding and donations. To help with the ongoing community arts and music projects in the lead up to Giiyong 2020, you can make a tax deductible donation directly to South East Arts. Find out more here https://southeastarts.org.au/donate-now/Baker Boy Dallas Woods Benny Walker Benny Clark Drummer Frank Yamma Jessie Lloyd Ali Cobby Eckermann Bruce Pascoe No Fixed Address Grow The Music IndigenousX Indigenous Grapevine. Sean Choolburra Mike Kelly MP Andrew Constance MP Create NSW Destination NSW Sapphire Coast NSW

Posted by Giiyong Festival on Monday, 3 June 2019

What's Your Opinion?

5 Responses to Successful Aboriginal cultural festival Giiyong gets go ahead for 2020

Sarah Cooper Sarah Cooper 8:56 pm 14 Jun 19

Can't wait!

Gabrielle Powell Gabrielle Powell 7:18 am 14 Jun 19

Fabulous news!

Marie Zuvich Marie Zuvich 7:15 am 14 Jun 19

hurray. we all thought it was such a beautiful event.

Janice Gibbons Janice Gibbons 9:21 pm 13 Jun 19

Fabulous event!!

Janice Gibbons Janice Gibbons 5:51 pm 13 Jun 19

Fabulous event!!

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