Coinciding with the 40th Anniversary of the Sydney Opera House – and the visit of the patrons of the celebrations, Denmark’s Crown Prince Couple, HRH Prince Frederik and HRH Princess Mary – there was a delegation of the Danish Ministry of Culture, who attended less media publicised events at the Australia Council for the Arts and at Auburn Community Development Network.
Søren Krogh (Head of Program, Chief advisor of the Danish Agency for Culture – Executive Secretariat) had been researching the Australia Council website at the time of the annual Ros Bower Awards, which honour an individual for their lifetime contribution to community arts and cultural development. The Danish Agency was genuinely keen to increase their own awareness of working in partnership with diverse communities on the ground, as well as meeting some award winning practitioners.
A intensive programme was organised that spanned three days and very different levels of engagement, opening up unexpected opportunities and inspirations.
On Wednesday 23rd October, Anne Mette Rahbæk Warburg (Director General, Danish Agency for Culture) visited the Australia Council for half a day to meet with the CEO, Tony Grybowski and other representatives across the organisation.
On Friday 25th October, a unique lunchtime forum was held at the Australia Council, bringing together four lifetimes of outstanding community arts and cultural development practice with a panel of the last four Ros Bower Award winners – Paula Abood 2013, Meme McDonald 2012, Kharen Harper 2011 and Alissar Chidiac 2010. It was an intimate and dynamic conversation chaired by Frank Panucci, Director of Community Partnerships, where panellists inspired and challenged the audience, as well as each other.
On Saturday 26th October, the Australia Council facilitated a visit by the Danish delegation to Auburn Community Development Network. At the request of the Danish delegation, Council selected a culturally diverse suburb where innovative arts projects are developed. ACDN is a small non-government organisation based at Auburn Central, and is one area of work of the current Ros Bower Award recipient, Paula Abood.
It was a packed Saturday morning event in the small ACDN premises, including the Danish Minister for Culture, Ms Marianne Jelved and four other members of the Danish delegation; five representatives of the Australia Council for the Arts; five Ros Bower Award winners; ACDN staff and ACDN partners; and most importantly, artists, facilitators and community members who are involved in a new cultural engagement project in Auburn. ACDN has received funding through Community Partnerships for a project in 2014 ‘Creative urban place-making practice fostering respect, social cohesion and belonging in Auburn’.
Welcome to Country was performed by local artist and elder Kerrie Kenton. Omeima Sukkarieh, Manager of ACDN spoke passionately about ACDN and the City of Auburn. Frank Panucci (also Executive Director, Arts funding Division) introduced Paula Abood who spoke about the new cultural engagement project, referencing the 2011 Declaration on Human Rights Education, that the ‘arts should be encouraged as a means of raising awareness in the field of human rights.’
The Minister for Culture, Ms. Marianne Jelved and the dignitaries met artists and community participants, displaying various art forms, including clay hand work and Arabic and Chinese calligraphies. Amidst the crowded informalities, the Delegation met the Ros Bower award winners, gifts were presented to the Minister, and everyone shared breakfast foods and coffee roasted and poured in a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.