The Queensland Italian Week Project - 2007 - 2017

Italian Week in Queensland commenced as an iniative of the Italian Governement via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, inspired by the Italian Consul General for Queensland and the Northern Territory Dr Francesco Capecchi.
 
Running for 11 years from 2007 until 2017 and hosting over 400 events including several major street festivals which attracted over 65,000 people to Brisbane's New Farm Park in 2016 you can see some of the highlights here.
 
The Festival was founded and produced by Cav. Alessandro Sorbellodigital marketing and media was cordinated by New Realm Media
 
A feature of the much loved Italian Week was the Illumination which comprised of lighting up superstructures in and around Brisbane in the Italian Colours. This Illumination was pioneered by Italian Week in 2008 with the Story Bridge being illuminated in Green White and Red in 2011 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.
 
Alessandro Sorbello Story Bridge Italian Colours
 
Italian Week was the subject of  ten year longitudinal study conducted by Cav. Alessandro Sorbello and Dr. Eliane Karsaklian from Sorbonne University of Paris with 8 academic papers being published in international journals. The two reasearchers won the prestigious 'Best Research Award' and hosted the keynote address at the University of Florence and Pisa in Italy in 2016. You can read an abstract of one of the papers here.
 
Over the 11 years of the festival, Italian Week was a proud supported of Hear and Say for Children born deaf and was responsible for sponsorsing several children over the years.
 
Italian immigration to Australia can be traced back to the beginning of English colonisation with Italians migrants appearing in the first Census collated by the New South Wales Government in 1828. Over the coming years, mass migration to Australia saw 360,000 Italians arrive between 1947 and 1976 (Rando, 2000). This trend was reflected throughout the century between 1870 and 1970, with over 26 million people migrating internationally from Italy (Gabaccia, 2006). Many of these immigrants left their homes to explore a new life in what was fast becoming a multicultural Australia. This country now has the third highest level of foreign population (Frost, Reeves, Laing, & Wheeler, 2009).  
 
Italian Festival Illumination QPAC Alessandro Sorbello
 
Fast forward to present day and we find that Italian culture is deeply rooted and strongly present in modern Australia (Pyke, 1948). In Queensland there are over 100,000 people are of Italian origin and of these 27,000 are Italian speakers whilst 15,000 are also Italian Citizens. These numbers make Italians one of the largest ethnic groups in the State (Arrighi, 1991). Italian migrants brought into the Queensland lifestyle their own traditions and culture, playing a crucial role in establishing the multicultural identity of the State (Pesman & Kevin, 2001). 
 
It is in this environment in 2007, that a premium cultural Italian festival in Queensland was created. The Italian Consul General, Dr Francesco Capecchi, suggested that the influence of Italian Culture in Australia needed to be emphasised, promoting a modern and dynamic Italy.  Italian Week commenced in collaboration between the Italian Government and the Queensland Government, with the first festival focussing special attention on the story of Italian migration and its contribution to the enrichment of Australian culture. The festival occurs in various cities around Queensland and marks the ‘Festa della Republica’, the Italian National holiday celebrated on the second day of June. It commemorates the institutional referendum of 1946 when Italian citizens were called to decide between a monarchy and republic. After 85 years of monarchy Italy became a Republic, and the monarchs of the House of Savoy were deposed and exiled.
 
 
The 2nd of June is one of the most important Italian national holidays which, like July 14th in France (Storming of the Bastille) and July 4th in the USA (Independence Day), celebrate the birth of the nation (Bull & Pasquino, 2007). Honouring this important date in Italian history and as a tribute to the influence of Italian culture in Australia, Italian Week developed a concept in 2009 to create a point of focus for the festival. Known as the ‘Illumination’, this focus point consists of lighting up key structures in the city of Brisbane in the Italian colours of green, white and red for the duration of Italian Week festival. Starting with the Treasury Casino in the heart of Brisbane, historically significant buildings and architectural structures have been illuminated each year since 2009.
 
The former Queensland Government Treasury Building, built in the 1890s and early 1900s served as a symbol of self-government and as a focus for celebratory and patriotic displays. In 2011, to mark the 150th Anniversary of Italian unification, in addition to the Treasury Casino, Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge was Illuminated in the ‘Tre Colori’  or the ‘three colours’ as the Italian national flag is known.  Located opposite the Treasury Casino and next door to the Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre stands at the heart of Southbank’s cultural precinct. In a grand display of light and colour, both the Casino and QPAC were ‘Illuminated’ in 2012 as a feature of Italian Week. This event, known as the ‘Illumination’ is designed as a ‘focal point’ for the festival, sends a strong message to Australians that the influence of Italian culture in Queensland is well appreciated and valued.
 
The Illumination is designed to stimulate and create ‘emotional engagement’ engendering commitment and pride within the Italian and Australian community in Queensland. A powerful and emotive symbol, the ‘Illumination” is visible for the entire week of the festival and is seen by hundreds of thousands of people. Supported by extensive marketing and public relations, the event is now well known and popular and continues to grow each year.  The production team at Italian Week believe that the creation and stimulation of ‘emotional engagement’ can and does extend the longevity of the festival, generating anticipation of future editions.

 

 

Italian Festival Illumination

 

 

 

 

Italian Festival on the Great South East May 2016

 
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