As part of Igniting Imagination, a partnership between Multicultural Arts Victoria and Melbourne Festival, Festival Ambassadors have been chosen from various cultural backgrounds to build connections between the Festival and their communities, by using their platforms as spokespeople to help those from our city’s diverse cultures engage with Melbourne Festival.
Festival Ambassadors represent the changing face of diversity in the arts. Melbourne is a wealth of colour, vibrancy and diversity within the arts. This year’s Festival Ambassadors exemplify this variety sparking creativity, connections and igniting imaginations.
Hazara poet and cultural activist Farkhonda Akbar writes abstract text inspired by her historical wounds and dark experiences as a young Hazara girl in Afghanistan. Having completed an undergrad and postgrad in International Relations and an internship at the United Nations Headquarters in NY, Farkhonda is dedicated to representing Hazara people worldwide and ensuring peace in her homeland Afghanistan.
Sydney-born Victoria trained at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. She has performed and toured extensively with European companies Cie Nomades, Cie Gilles Jobin, Micha Purucker, Jozsef Trefeli and Jane Turner. In Australia she has worked with Fiona Malone, Bernadette Walong and with Australian Dance Theatre for TV show Superstars of Dance filmed in Los Angeles.
James has been working as a photographer in the Aboriginal community in Melbourne for the past five years covering protest marches to conferences to portraits. His strength as a photographer would have to be his diversity and this has enabled him to work in many disciplines across the country.
Moses is an internationally recognised artist with extensive experience touring as a musician and DJ across Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, USA and Europe. Currently completing a Master of Community Cultural Development at the Victorian College of the Arts, Moses’ practice-as-research approach is also establishing him as a documentarian and researcher of global dance music culture and practice. Through workshops, Moses further engages in the sharing of knowledge and experience to build bridges between cultures.
Ajak presents a rare voice that blends haunting melodies, colours, rhythms and mystery. Whether Ajak is singing in Arabic, Sudanese or English she leaves no doubt as to the depth and richness of her Dinka roots. Music is the vehicle for her stories of extraordinary life experiences as a refugee, exiled from her home town. She sings about freedom, peace, love and cows.
Lamine was born in Senegal, West Africa into a family of griots—custodians of ancient lineages, functioning as the eyes and ears of the community. Now living in Melbourne, Australia and a part of the West African diaspora, the position of traditional griot expands to embrace a new cultural position, whereby music becomes a platform for bringing diverse cultures and practices together into space for the communion of multiple knowledge sources—traditional and contemporary.
Sinit arrived in Australia from Ethiopia at the age of 10 and is a talented singer and performer—showcasing the many regional Ethiopian dances. When she arrived in Australia, she was given a scholarship to the Greentree Drama School in Williamstown and has since appeared in several short films, often given a role that requires her talent in singing. Sinit was recently in Sydney to play a lead role in an Ethiopian drama which will also be seen in Melbourne later this year.
Dr Wang Zheng-Ting graduated from Shanghai Music Conservatory, completed a MA at Monash University and a PhD in Ethnomusicology at the University of Melbourne. He is lecturing on Chinese Instrumental Music Ensemble at the University of Melbourne, an honorary research fellow at Monash University, director of the Australian Chinese Music Ensemble, and Guest Professor at Xiamen University, China.
Chi Vu is a writer and performance maker based in Melbourne. Her plays include the critically acclaimed A Story of Soil, Banh Chung and Vietnam: a Psychic Guide, also published in the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (ed. Nicholas Jose). Her novella, Anguli Ma: a Gothic Tale was shortlisted in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards.