Gold for Giiyong: first-time festival wins award

Giiyong Festival has taken out the Gold Award in the Events and Festivals Category of the 2019 Destination Sydney Surrounds South and Destination Southern NSW Regional Tourism Awards.

Southern NSW’s first Aboriginal arts and cultural festival took place in September 2018 at Jigamy, just north of Eden on NSW’s Far South Coast. Giiyong (pronounced Guy-Yong) means ‘come to welcome’ in the South Coast language as spoken by the local Elders.

Festival Artistic Director and Event Manager, Jasmin Williams of South East Arts said, “The award is not only an acknowledgement of the hard work by Twofold Aboriginal Corporation and South East Arts in delivering the Festival, but more importantly, an acknowledgement of the value of Aboriginal culture and its deserved place at the forefront of our creative and social landscape here in South East NSW. “

“Giiyong Festival proved in spectacular fashion that our region’s local talented Aboriginal artists, performers and cultural leaders have a huge amount to contribute to our cultural understanding, our local economy and our tourism industry,” Ms Williams continued.

In her acceptance speech at the awards in Ulladulla, Twofold Aboriginal Corporation’s Alison Simpson acknowledged the the hardwork of all the Festival staff and volunteers and the support of festival-goers, donors, sponsors and supporters.

“Without community support, Giiyong Festival can’t happen. We really appreciate everyone who has got behind this important, massive project. We can’t wait for September 2020 when Giiyong Festival will fly again at Jigamy.”, Ms Simpson said.

Organisers believe Giiyong Festival showed that non-Aboriginal people are eager for authentic cultural experiences. In southern NSW, where there are few opportunities for people to connect and engage with their Aboriginal neighbours, Giiyong Festival provides an unprecedented platform to acknowledge and celebrate local Aboriginal communities, and their long history and understanding of this place.

Looking ahead now to Giiyong 2020, South East Arts and Twofold Aboriginal Corporation will undertake further community engagement, continue to support and develop Aboriginal artists and ensure the Cultural history and stories of this place are articulated.
Giiyong Festival is now a contender for the State Tourism Awards later this year in Sydney. The next Giiyong Festival will be held at Jigamy on 19 September 2020.

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Images: David Rogers