MELBOURNE | More than 150 people attended a Foundation Benefactors event on Tuesday evening, which was organised by the Greek Community of Melbourne, ahead of the opening of the Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture at 168 Lonsdale Street scheduled for later this year. Conceived to not only thank the existing Principal Benefactors of the Greek Centre, the event provided an opportunity to encourage further financial support from members of the community as Foundation Benefactors. Almost $800,000 has been pledged, with further support continuing to come through.
Very much still under construction, Level 1 of the Greek Centre which will host theatre and music performances in the future, was transformed into a function space for the evening, giving attendees a sneak peak at the Greek Centre and the expansive wrap around terrace with views over Russell and Lonsdale Street.
The Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture will feature function and exhibition spaces, education and community meeting spaces, a feature exhibition celebrating the history of Greeks in Australia and the Greek Community of Melbourne offices.
The event was hosted by Olyvia Nikou QC (Co-chair of the Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture Advisory Committee), who relived fond memories of reciting poetry as a young girl in the Greek Community building, and described how honoured she was to now be back in a new building delivering a welcome speech in the new Greek Centre as one of the drivers of the Advisory Committee.
Special guests for the evening included Andrew Demetriou (Chief Executive of the Australian Football League), Ange Potecoglou (Head Coach of the Australian Football team) and Peter Abraams (Executive Director Strategic Planning at the Royal Group in the United Arab Emirates). The Greek Community was thrilled to have secured the attendance of these three high profile Greek-Australians, each sharing their experiences of growing up Greek and Greek-Cypriot in Australia and their confidence in this new phase for the Greek Community.
A heartfelt sentiment was shared across all speakers, echoing a desire to leave a legacy for future generations, but to also acknowledge the immeasurable contribution of the founders of the Greek Community organisation, and the determination of first Greek migrants.
‘When our parents immigrated in the 50’s and 60’s, and in my case, my grandparents, in the 20’s, Australia, was promoted as the ‘lucky country’. Over the years, I’m sure we’ve all realised, that the resultant beneficiaries of this fundraising campaign, were really the second and third Generation, whom we represent here tonight. We’ve had the privilege of living ‘the best of both worlds’, absorbing our language and culture, through our parents’, said Peter Abraam.
President of the Greek Community Bill Papastergiadis was extremely proud to be addressing the crowd in the physical space of the Greek Centre, a historic moment and the result of more than ten years of planning. He was eager to point out that ‘tonight we tell a story not only about the building that has been built, but more importantly, the people that, in a metaphorical sense, put each brick in place”.
Beyond the relevance of the Centre to Greek-Australians is the significance of the space as a cultural institution. Professor Nikos Papastergiadis (Co-chair of the Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture’s Advisory Committee), spoke in detail about the Greek Centre becoming a vital part of Melbourne and an example of for the future of multiculturalism in Australia. Professor Papastergiadis wanted to highlight that ‘this new cultural centre should be place for re-inventing the Greek diaspora, an example for all minority communities, and a place of learning for our cosmopolitan world. So while the gift of money is vital and much appreciated, our destination is to make a place that is the platform where your friends meet’.
To become a Foundation Benefactor or donor please contact the Greek Community on 03 9662 2722 or email [email protected]
The GOCMV thanked Normanby House for the evening’s catering, the Agora Group for beverages, ACG Security Services and CVA Productions for the Audio Visual Equipment.