Page 1022 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 15 March 2005

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I wonder, though, whether many isolated and marginalised people attended them. These are not events that one can easily attend without a companion, I suspect. I know that Canberra is not an easy place for people new to this place to meet other people. I am not sure that we cater well for newcomers and that these events provide the community development that will draw the new, the single and the introverted into our broader community. I believe that we should put some thought into bringing these people in. Do not misunderstand me: the Greens are very happy that so many people find the mass events associated with Canberra Day enjoyable. I would like to raise a few points though.

I would like to see more connection between the Multicultural Festival and the Canberra festival, or whatever its name is in whichever year. Separated as they are by just a few weeks, there is a sense that they are for different groups of people, and I am sure that is not the intention. I would also like to see these events emerging more from the community, developed over a period, perhaps by steering committees. The point of this is that the events should not be one-offs but should grow out of and reflect community desires. In so doing, they could assist us in developing the arts community in Canberra, providing music, drama, dance and other performance groups with the opportunity to develop new shows and events over a period of time.

Another thought: these events could give young people the chance to work with more seasoned performers, improving their skills and their sense of belonging. We could bring in young people that do not normally see themselves as part of this circuit. What about, for instance, involving skateboarders by having a rolling—excuse the pun—event which includes all the skate parks in the community?

Each celebration could assist in the development of our cultural identity and this would involve developing our sense of history, our heritage and our place in the region. Just an aside: about 10 years ago, with another person, I ran an event in Yarralumla, which is where I live and which is, as you know, a place rich in heritage—some of which we are losing by inappropriate development. I forget what we actually called it, but it was a “getting to know Yarralumla” event and we had photographs by Ann Gugler, who is a historian with a fantastic collection and a really good knowledge of the area, which we showed in a local hall. We had walks run by Ann and other people. It was just a very small local event but it really did reach a lot of people who did not know that they lived in a community that actually had a history.

We could also develop our sense of our place in the region through these events. We could bring people in. There are arts in our surrounding towns and communities, for instance, and they could have a larger and a new audience to present their events to. For many performers the problem is finding an audience. They could work with Canberra groups, thus building our sense of being in the region and their sense of being considered by the national capital. We could move events around Canberra. Not everyone likes to join the traffic jam to and from the centre of Canberra for Skyfire or for big concerts. Some do not like to move too far from their town centres, which, by the way, would benefit from a bit more cultural activity.

These are just some ideas. I think we should be wary of self-congratulatory approaches to events we organise, whether we are a government or a community organisation. Let us

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