Serge’s Column – August

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Let’s talk about art and culture…

It is the time of the year when I have the pleasure of handing out cheques to artists and arts organisations as part of the Cultural Development Grants Panel that I chair for the City of Port Phillip. This year we had a particularly strong field of applications and it was tough to judge. We chose a  variety of projects, including, among others, intimate performances in private apartments, the production of a DVD about the history of Port Melbourne’s settlers, various dance performances, including a group of deaf artists, exhibitions at various arts spaces throughout the city, support for programs at Red Stitch Theatre, the Napier Street Theatre, Linden, Gasworks or Theatre Works, a photography book and the publication of a book of poems and essays.

All up, we have given $135,000 worth of grants. It was wonderful to see Amy Lehpamer reprise her role of Margaret Fulton at the presentation. The City of Port Phillip was the first organisation to support the musical “Margaret Fulton – Queen of the Dessert” which had its world premiere at Theatre Works, with Margaret Fulton in attendance. Meeting the lady herself was a highlight and a privilege for me. She even invited me to come to her house in Balmain and have a home cooked meal with her, and gave me her home telephone number. How cool is that? I have not taken up the option yet, but I am looking forward to trying her legendary pavlovas one day! And I hear that the musical is about to return, bigger and better than ever. Don’t miss it. It is a great piece of theatre about a very significant woman in Australian culture, and a great night out, too.

This month is also when the Melbourne International Film Festival takes place. I am thrilled that Port Phillip and St Kilda are very well represented. Richard Lowenstein and Lynn-Maree Milburn’s movie on Father Bob Maguire had its premiere at MIFF and is a great insight into Father Bob’s life. I am looking forward to seeing the movie “Aim High in Creation”, produced by St Kilda resident Lizzette Atkins, about the cinematic genius of North Korea’s late, beloved, leader, Kim Jong-il. It’s revolutionary comedy!! Port Phillip film maker Robert Connolly is involved in the movie “The Turning”, based on Tim Winton’s short stories, as well as Elwood resident, Tony Ayres. St Kilda local resident Peter Kaufmann has produced a great movie, “Fallout”: the untold story of Nevil Shute’s famed novel, On The Beach, and the film of the same name, and of course Mark Hartley’s remake of the movie Patrick starring local resident Rachel Griffiths. We can be proud of all our talent in our village!

Also, don’t forget that the George Cinema Revival is reopening mid august. The project to reopen the cinema is being led by Gus Berger, director of production company, Gusto Films. The films and events that are planned over the next few months are worth going to and Gus is open to ideas for making the cinema a new community hub for all. I wish Gus, and all the people involved, the best of luck in the new venture. I truly hope it succeeds.  We certainly need a cinema in St Kilda, so make sure you go and show your support!

The films and events that are planned over the next few months are worth going to. And Gus is open to ideas to make the cinema a new community hub for all.

I cannot finish writing about cinema without congratulating young local artist – and part time Council worker – Rhys Mitchell, for the award won recently at the Palm Springs Shortfest! Well done, Rhys. I am looking forward to seeing you in “Upper Middle Bogan”, on ABC-TV, later on this month.

Let’s change topic. We were privileged to have Tim Gill, described as “one of the UK’s leading thinkers on childhood, and an effective advocate for positive change in children’s everyday lives.”, in Port Phillip. You can read about his ideas on his blog I took Tim out for a little tour of St Kilda. I was thrilled that he enjoyed what the community has done in the Veg Out Community Gardens and with the skate park at Marina Reserve. Tim will add us in his talks and in his blog. Marina Reserve has certainly become an attraction. Every couple of weeks, I take various decision makers from across Australia for a tour and I talk to them about the community benefits of the Marina Reserve and how we achieved what we have got. It seems that our example will be replicated in other cities in Australia and provide a place for both kids and adults to meet and enjoy themselves.

To finish off, once again, I am encouraging you to take part in the Yarra Trams consultation about possible new trams stops in Acland Street and Fitzroy Street. We, the people of Port Phillip can, and should, influence the way in which the plans that have been proposed will be carried out.   We at Council have a couple of alternative options to those proposed by Yarra Trams. But we need your input. We are always very keen to listen to what our community, residents and traders, thinks on this very important topic, but we cannot do it if you don’t participate. So, please, get involved.

Apropos of that, let me share a quote by the Marquis de Lafayette that I used at a speech I gave on Bastille Day: “When the government violates the people’s rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensible of duties.”

Until next month!



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