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Melbourne Award for the Bastille Day French Festival !

20645136_1952555475001655_629663056445173695_oHooray! On Saturday the 18th of November, the City of Melbourne officially presented the Bastille Day French Festival with an award for its “contribution to multiculturalism” in the corporation category. This is a wonderful recognition of such a major event, which celebrates one of the most symbolic French festivals.

A weekend of celebration in red, white, and blue…

Three years ago the Victorian associations decided to partner with the Honorary Consulate General of France to organise the iconic 14th of July celebration. Originally, the festival was held at the State Library of Victoria, a prestigious location, but eventually it was too small for an event that became popular. In 2017, it’s location changed to the 2500 m2 Meat Market in the North of the city… a risky bet, but a successful one.

20746396_1952554921668377_4190597354017026570_oIn terms of partnerships, a number of French ambassadors of gastronomy, the art of living, education, and of technology were present. Attendees to the event could do their grocery shopping there, but also participate in conferences or workshops, and even go to concerts. This year, as icing on the cake, the festival was graced by the presence of the French comedian Paul Taylor. Of the 7,000 people who attended, 59% of them were Australian. The results are in and they’re full of enthusiasm: “Make it bigger, with more everything – more market stalls, more food and drink, possibly a second stage, more art etc. – love the event*” one participant wrote.

On cloud nine…

“It is such an honour to receive this amazing award which will encourage us to be even better next year,” said Charlotte Diethelm, the project manager of BDFF, who was very touched. “It also proves that together, we are such a strong team.” She highlights that she was lucky enough to have such outstanding collaborators including Ann-Elizabeth Brodbeck and Chloe Ginisty.

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BDFF team with Lord Mayor Lord Mayor on the left side

Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie, Honorary Consulate General of France in Melbourne and Founding President of the festival recalls the first steps of the organizing committee “We were five at the start and it took many round-table meetings to structure the event.” She is proud of how much the event has grown in just three years. “We have managed to create a unifying meeting to suit everyone: the growing number of partnerships, but also the small businesses and Victorian public and private schools… not to mention the sponsors.”

She wishes to thank the loyal people who have been there since the beginning and who had faith in the success of the event, as well as the FACCI and the Alliance Française de Melbourne. This year, her gratitude goes out to “artists and visual artists who trusted us, to musicians who made powerful impressions, and to renowned teachers such as Peter McPhee and Alice Pébay who lead conferences at such an outstanding academic level.” The numerous volunteers are not forgotten because “without them, the festival would not exist.”

In completing the tedious Melbourne Award application form, Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie thought she was mostly doing a formal exercise, as the quality of the finalists seemed hard to match. Furthermore, “three years of existence is not very long.” So the prize was a real surprise and a huge honour. She sends her regards to Robert Doyle at the City of Melbourne and to the jury of whom the President assured her had no disputes over where the prize should go. It was the Bastille Day French Festival without a doubt.

Sunday morning, when she woke up, she was still on cloud nine. She gave a thought to the “business angel” that has helped the organisation in all discretion and who will allow the festival to fly on its own next year with a fresh team. She also had her father who recently passed away in mind. Of all the congratulatory messages she received, only his was missing.

Translation by Claudia Gallois – See our French article here.

All the results of the 2017 Melbourne Awards :

Melburnian of the Year: Susan Alberti AC

Contribution to Sustainability:

Richard Thomas (Wormlovers Pty Ltd) and The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria

Contribution to Community:

Pauline Gandel Children’s Galley, Melbourne Museum and ILBIJERRI Theatre Company

Contribution to Profile:

The Mulberry Group and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Contribution to Multiculturalism:

Bastille Day French Festival Inc. and Behind the Wire, Immigration Museum

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