9 February 2023

Journalist Stan Grant and rapper Philly headline inaugural Warangesda Festival

| Oliver Jacques
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Philly sits in from of Warangesda sign

Rapper Philly and journalist Stan Grant are big drawcards for Warangesda. Photo: Supplied.

Prominent Griffith-born journalist Stan Grant will return to the Riverina to host a series of discussions at a two-day Indigenous cultural festival on Friday and Saturday, 17 and 18 February, 2023.

Warangesda, a former Aboriginal mission site just outside Darlington Point, will host art, music, storytelling, dance, culture and a night-time theatre production. The name Warangesda means ”camp of mercy”. It is now a heritage-listed area with preserved building ruins and archaeological relics.

READ ALSO Son’s death inspires Darlington Point Wiradjuri woman’s art venture

Festival marketing director Matthew Folino said mental health and suicide would be major themes during the event.

“The idea came last year when the under-18 suicide was skyrocketing,” he said.

”We want to offer some hope to young people, be it art, music or culture. We want to bring young kids along and teach them how to deal with depression.

“In Sydney, there is a festival happening all the time. But there’s not much happening outside the big city, [this is a chance to] connect Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to their community.”

Warangesda is produced by Burrundi Theatre in collaboration with Western Riverina Arts, and sponsored by Charles Sturt University (CSU) and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

Aboriginal dancers

A Burrundi Theatre corroboree. Photo: Supplied.

It will feature discussion forums, hosted by journalist Grant and CSU across both days, on the future of Warangesda, the Voice to Parliament referendum, the Uluru Statement from the Heart and local Wiradjuri voices.

Grant was born in Griffith in 1963. He spent most of his childhood on the road living in small towns and Aboriginal communities across the Riverina and outback NSW before gaining a journalism cadetship and becoming one of the nation’s best-known media personalities.

“Stan has a lot of connections to Darlington Point. He has an investment in sharing the stories of the local community,” Mr Folino said.

“This is our first festival. We have been planning this since July. We were recipients of a grant from the NSW Government Regional Events Acceleration Fund, which allowed us to do this. We hope this will be the first of many.”

READ ALSO The Voice referendum is on its way, and we all need to understand what’s at stake

Warangesda will kick off by hosting a youth festival on the Friday from 10 am to 2 pm, featuring local artists, weaving/artefact workshops and guest speakers from Wellways Griffith, Tirkandi Inaburra, and Lachlan Steuart from the Black Dog Institute. Later, there will be a sunset ceremony with performances by Wiradjuri leaders Patti Undy and Shannon Smith.

The marquee event will occur on the first evening in the form of a theatre production featuring performances headlined by Philly, an award-winning rapper from Mildura. Artists Tahalianna Soward-Mahanga, Zipporah Corser-Anu, Dyagula and Damien “Dookie” Thorne will also perform.

On the Saturday, the site will transform into a full-blown music festival featuring performances by artists Roger and Buddy Knox and the band, Birdz, Dyagula, Dizzy Doolan, Stiff Gins, The Donovans and Philly.

Registration for the festival can be completed online at the Warangesda Festival website. Organisers request a small donation, with the recommended amount being $15 for adults and $5 for kids.

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