Page 922 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 24 February 2009

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minister for arts by the Leader of the Opposition; it is something that I have aspired to for some time and it is a role that I take on with considerable enjoyment and anticipation.

I would like to pay tribute again for the huge amount of work that is done by volunteers across the ACT in arts organisations. Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit the Canberra Youth Theatre, Music for Everyone, Canberra Youth Music and a number of galleries—including the Solander Gallery and the M16 Artspace—and to participate in a number of other cultural activities, including the splendid show of Guys and Dolls being put on by Free Rain at the moment at the Q theatre in Queanbeyan. I have not yet had a chance to take in Canberra Rep’s presentation of I Hate Hamlet, which I hope still does pay great tribute to the bard.

And there is the wonderful work of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, which is an organisation that is close to the hearts of many people, as seen by the fabulous prom concert with a bohemian theme this year that we experienced at Government House two weekends ago. We had a bohemian theme this year because the Embassy of the Czech Republic was a sponsor, to celebrate the Czech Republic’s acquiring of the presidency of the EU for 2009. Part of their contribution to cultural life in Canberra was the sponsorship of the CSO prom concert.

One of the other highlights was the CAT Awards—the 14th CAT awards—that took place on Friday night. I had a choice: I could go to the rugby or I could go to the CAT awards. I took the CAT awards. I gather it was a stunning rugby match that was a cliffhanger; I have a tape of it that I will have to watch at some stage to keep up with the rest of the family. But while my family went off to the rugby, I went off to the CAT awards. It was a splendid night. I pay tribute to especially the work of Coralie Wood, who came up with the idea in the first place. At the time, people did not think that it would last. But it was, in a sense, our own little theatre Oscar awards. It is a tribute to the fact that over the last year an inordinate number of people have contributed to the cultural life of Canberra and the surrounding region through high quality theatre.

It is incumbent upon us to do what we can to support those organisations. I look forward to being able to continue my association with the CAT awards in the 15th and successive years and to a continuing association with a whole range of community arts organisations. Most of the work that is done by these people is done by volunteers. They often have one or two people who are paid, but through those one or two people who are paid a vast amount of teaching and learning in the arts and music goes on, to the enrichment of the entire community.

Canberra area theatre awards

MR COE (Ginninderra) (6.00): I rise this evening to pay tribute to all those involved in the Canberra area theatre awards. The CAT awards, as they are more commonly known, are a fantastic event that showcases the theatrical talent of Canberra and the region. I very much enjoyed the event on Saturday, 21 February this year at the Canberra Theatre.

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