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About Italian Festival - Italian Week

Join us for Italian Festival and Italian Week - check out www.italianweek.com.au for full program. In 2007, upon the request of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italian Week was created to celebrate Italy’s exuberance, in the modern context, the culture and way of life which is reflected in many different domains, including art, fashion, gastronomy and manufacturing. All things Italian are showcased to favour their cross-cultural integration providing high quality events and entertainment to the community. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs proposed a reconfiguration and redefinition of Italian festivals, recommending that a high level week-long cultural festival be created in Queensland. Specifically developed to dispel out dated stereotypes regarding Italy and to create a platform for cultural and social cohesion. As an Italian Government initiative, the festival’s conception stemmed from an ideological point of view, which incorporated strong and meaningful collaboration with key Government, institutional and private sector partners. Over the past 8 years, Italian Week has partnered with organisations such as the Queensland Government, Multicultural Affairs, Brisbane City Council, Brisbane Marketing and Ipswich City Council. These partners were selected based on the ability of the collaborator to deliver events which satisfied both hedonistic and utilitarian needs of festival participants, once achieved, the festival shifted its focus to developing ‘emotional engagement’. Italian Week has grown from strength to strength over the past 11 years. Starting with 2000 visitors in 2007, the festival has grown to accommodate over 65,000 people in 2016. One of the reasons that Italian Week enjoys this success is the creation of emotional engagement each year, which develops loyalty and ambassadors to the festival. Italian Week makes people feel good because it brings the best of Italy to Queensland during the festival in a controlled environment where visitors’ utilitarian and hedonistic needs are fully satisfied as exemplified by the following quote from one respondent; Friendships, lots of memories. Enjoyed the entertainment, the experience as a whole just makes me want to be more engaged with the Italian culture, community, learn more about the country, experience more of the country that I already have just -- yes, it makes you feel sort of warm, there's just a warm cultural or family oriented people and I just love it. As stated previously, we assume that emotional engagement leads to increase in wellbeing and a festival like the Italian Week evokes emotional responses such as joy, delight, excitement, change of scenery, among others. As cited by some respondents: … Italian food is joyous food; … it’s a lot of fun, I go to celebrate Italian culture with my friends; … it feels like family. Italian Week in Australia brings Italians, Australians with Italian heritage and non-Italians together to experience Italian culture and rituals, often, captivated by the atmosphere created during the Festival. The spontaneous willingness to attend Italian Week leads consumers to be part of a community; the community of Italy’s culture. Participants can be stimulated by hedonic motivations, that is, by the pleasant sensations they experience by eating Italian food, drinking Italian beverages, listening to Italian music or watching Italian movies and performances. They can also be motivated by the need to conform or belong to a community or group. This would imply being part of the Italian community in Australia whether or not they actually have Italian origins. According to Jameson (2007), the term cultural identity refers to an individual’s sense of self-derived from formal or informal membership in groups that transmit and inculcate knowledge, beliefs, values, traditions, and ways of life. The authors suggest that cultural identity is just one part of a larger concept of individual identity, which is decomposed of two parts: objective identity (nationality and country of residence) and subjective identity (a person’s sense of who he or she is as a human being). Thus, a collective identity includes both cultural and social aspects. Cultural identity involves historical perspective whereas social identity is often anchored in a particular moment in time. Cultural identity is an internal state that depends on self-perception. As stated by one respondent: Italians cannot live without our culture especially for foods or clothes. For most of them, it is very important to keep their culture even if you move around. Often, cultural communities are known as Diasporas. Diaspora is comprised of ever changing representations which provide an imaginary coherence for a net of flexible identities (Hall, 1990). Thanks to globalization, members of Diasporas often have dual attachments, as quoted by one respondent … as children of Italian born parents, we are brought up the Australian/Italian way NOT the pure Italian way. They are home away of home. They live in some place (here) as they have a connection with their cultural roots (there). Briefly said, members of a diaspora draw on cosmopolitanism as an identity resource (Ziemer, 2009). In the specific case of the study we analyse in this paper, ‘here’ is Australia and ‘there’ is Italy. But the beauty of this Festival is that it bridges the two cultures by bringing both Australia and Italy together to the same place that is ‘here’. Attendees forget about the 16,000 km separating them from the ‘mother country’ and enjoy its best flavours from the city they actually live in. As quoted by one of the respondents … the Italian Week is a special time of the year when Italy comes to Australia. Italian Week and Italian Festival are just a re-enactment or more of a reassurance that there is a culture that can continue to strive and be noticed through its cultural means. The preceding quote from a participant very well illustrates the idea of cultural meaning, experiential meaning, community, identity, integration and long lasting emotional engagement with one culture or between two cultures. They also show that immigrants do no replace their culture of origin with the host culture, but just bring them together to take the best out of both. One of the secrets of the success of the two festivals is also that is sticks to Italian stereotypes so that attendees won’t be disappointed at the same time as they uncover much about the Italian culture, which is not limited to pizza and pasta as quoted by one attendee:… “we are more than pizza, and all things ‘Papa Giuseppe’, we have such style and depth to our culture”.

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