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Greeks and the politics of Australian cosmopolitanism

altThe Research Unit in Public Cultures (RUPC) and the Centre of Visual Art (CoVA) presented a public lecture by Andrew Jakubowicz, Professor of Sociology at the University of Technology Sydney, at the Greek Centre, on Wednesday 17 October 2018. Also this event provided the opportunity to launch two major reports on multiculturalism.

The first report was introduced by Professor Nikos Papastergiadis, titled: “From Ethnic Enclave to Cosmopolitan Cultures: Evaluating the Greek Center for Contemporary Culture in the City of Melbourne” and authored by Daniella Trimboli, Tia Di Biase, Barry Burgan and Nikos Papastergiadis.

Nikos highlighted the main findings from the report and its focus on the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival:
• This event attracts over 100,000 people per year and includes performances from prominent Australian and Greek diaspora groups.
• Attendees spent $6.4 million in total;
• $5 million represented expenditure in the Lonsdale Street area that would not have occurred without the festival;
• 35 full-time jobs were generated in the Lonsdale Street area because of the Festival;
• Attendees who come to the festival then went on to spend money elsewhere in the State of Victoria. This expenditure generated: $0.9 million of revenue for the State at large, $1.1 million of Gross State Product, and the equivalent of 8.5 full-time jobs.

• In 2017:
- One third of the attendees were new participants; Those who had previously attended had done so, on average, 8 times— indicating an excellent rate of return;
- Number of attendees with a Greek background was strong, indicating the role of the GCCC and its festival in contributing to intergenerational continuity of culture;
- A high proportion of attendees were from other cultural backgrounds, indicating the festival’s status as a multicultural attraction for the City of Melbourne
- A broadening of the parameters of ‘Greekness’ was evidenced through the inclusion of Greek diasporic music and dance acts;
- The highest motivation for attendance was “atmosphere”, which illustrates the GCCC’s capacity to deliver a positive socio-cultural ‘feeling’ to the City of Melbourne.

He also argued that the GCCC is a leading voice in the articulation of the multicultural heritage and cosmopolitan vision of the City of Melbourne. It is an exemplary site of cultural production, particularly strong in areas of cultural maintenance, language, education, and political engagement.

The education program, which occurs throughout the year, is a leading force for cultural knowledge in the CBD. It delivers an impressive range of cultural activities that include:

• Delivery of language classes across 14 language schools with more than 1200 enrolled students;
• 35-40 public lectures every year, as well as regular musical and literary events which attract 50-150 attendees each;
• Many creative events and pursuits, including a venue for the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, The Antipodes Greek Writers Festival, the Live @ the Greek music series, and provision of space for screen writing, cabaret rehearsal, and theatre performances.

He concluded that the GCCC can become a beacon for the cosmopolitan character of the City of Melbourne.

Following on was Dr Rimi Khan who presented a summary of the “The Multiculturalism and Governance: Evaluating Arts Policies and Engaging Cultural Citizenship”. This was a 5-year Australian Research Council–funded Linkage Project.

The research examined how arts and programs engage with diversity and investigated how multiculturalism is articulated in policy, aesthetic production and everyday cultural participation.

The research was a partnership between University of Melbourne and organisations at Federal, State and Local government levels, including the Australia Council, Creative Victoria, Department of Premier and Cabinet (Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship), and the City of Whittlesea.

The partnership offered a unique opportunity to examine what multiculturalism means at these different levels of policymaking and cultural programming. One of the project’s key innovations was the development of a cultural indicator framework, which highlighted the connections between cultural participation, belonging and cultural capital, and their contribution to new forms of cultural citizenship. The project also examined the question of value in the arts, and the work of multicultural artists in shifting these definitions and criteria of success and excellence.

In response to these two reports, Professor Andrew Jakubowicz, was invited to make some general remarks on the developments in the Greek community and the historical role of Greeks in the formation of multiculturalism in Australia.

He noted that the main argument of the Greek Community Cultural Centre review report refers to the imperative to move from multiculturalism to cosmopolitanism in public policy.
In his lecture Professor Jakubowicz reflected on a hundred years or so of Greek political engagement with Australian cultural diversity, from the Greek immigrant experience of Anglor-Australian terrorism in the 1920s, through the creation of multiculturalism, to the contemporary era of possibly too much diversity.

He also noted that there is a struggle between conflicting theories of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism, and that this has had an impact in the way migration policies are defined and cultural services are funded.

Andrew Jakubowicz is Emeritus Professor of Sociology in the Communication School at the University of Technology Sydney. He has written widely on multiculturalism, politics and media, and has also contributed to many documentaries, including 'Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta' and 'The Great Australian Race Riot'. His most recent book with colleagues is Cyber Racism and Community Resilience (Palgrave, 2017). He runs the interactive website 'Making Multicultural Australia' (http:// His reflections and analyses appear regularly on The Conversation and Pearls and Irritations.

GREEK CENTRE EVALUATION REPORT (click on the image to read it)


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