Best of the week: What to see, hear and do from May 31 to June 6 – Sydney Morning Herald

FILM Watch Kriv Stenders’ award-winning 2005 film Blacktown (rated MA) as part of Western Sydney Shorts (until June 9), which releases a film every Tuesday and Friday evening to watch for the next 10 days with the program offering a cinematic insight into the multicultural region. 7.30pm, free, blacktownarts.com.au

Hip-hop group Thundamentals are taking their shows online. Credit:Adam Scarf

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3

MUSIC Hip-hop group Thundamentals are partway through their month-long weekly video series Iso Tapes (until June 10), which has the group digging into their archives to share unreleased footage from past performances. Today they premiere a version of their catchy track True Love backed by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. 7pm, free, thundamentals.com.au

THURSDAY, JUNE 4

FILM Catch a virtual screening of independent documentary In My Blood It Runs (rated PG), which follows 10-year-old Arrernte/Garrwa boy, Dujuan, and the prejudices he faces. After the movie filmmaker Maya Newell takes part in a question-and-answer session. 6.30pm, $14.75, inmyblooditruns.com

FRIDAY, JUNE 5

BOOKS Author Imbi Neeme launches her debut novel The Spill (Viking, $32.99), which picked up the 2019 Penguin Literary Prize, via Zoom as she discusses her writing journey in creating the story of a car crash in Western Australia and its effects on a family. 6.30pm, free (bookings essential), penguin.com.au

SATURDAY, JUNE 6

MUSIC Melbourne Digital Concert Hall’s new Aquilina Gala Series kicks off with its first weekly concert, a program of Haydn, Bach and Beethoven performed by violinists Dale Barltrop and Sophie Rowell, string ensemble Quartz Quartet and more. 7.30pm, $30, melbournedigitalconcerthall.com

Starz steps up for cancelled YouTube series – C21Media

Step Up: High Water was commissioned by YouTube

US premium cablenet Starz has ordered a third season of dance drama Step Up: High Water from Lionsgate Television, a year after the show was cancelled by YouTube.

The series revolves around the founder of the fictional Atlanta High Water Performing Arts School and his partner as they face criminal charges, financial ruin and powerful political enemies.

The show was inspired by Starz parent company Lionsgate’s Step Up film franchise, which grossed more than US$600m around the world.

It was one of YouTube’s first original scripted commissions but was canned in August last year as part of the platform’s wider move away from original drama. Starz has ordered a 10-episode third run.

Holly Sorensen, Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot, producers on the original Step Up films, exec produce the series version through their Offspring Entertainment banner.

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, who co-starred in the original Step Up film, also exec produce through Tatum’s Free Association production company. Erik Feig, who served as producer on all the films and oversaw the franchise, is also exec producing via his prodco Picturestart. Bill Brown is also exec producing.

Christina Davis, president of original programming for Starz, said: “Holly and her team have created a new and dynamic iteration of the series that captures the hallmarks that have made the Step Up franchise so successful and elevates the storytelling for the premium, global audience. This, coupled with the worldwide appeal of the multi-talented, multicultural cast, will make this series a great addition to our slate.”

International Festival of Arts & Ideas finds a new executive director to guide key transition – Hartford Courant

The Ordway Center resembles The Bushnell in Hartford in the way it hosts national tours of Broadway shows, books lots of one-night concerts, houses a symphony orchestra and has more than one performance space. Where the Ordway compares with the International Festival of Arts & Ideas is in creating community-oriented programming geared to the unique cultural qualities of its home city, and by bringing in international artists, often with experimental leanings, that the more mainstream arts presenters haven’t discovered yet. Artists who’ve played both Arts & Ideas and the Ordway Center include Canadian punk-style Inuit throat singer Tanya Tacaq, the Connecticut-based modern movement troupe Pilobolus and the theater circus troupe Cirque Mechanics.

Creativity urgently needed in COVID-19 response – ArtsHub

The creative industries have a critical role in a modern economy. Creative industries include the traditional arts, but also broader sections of the economy that have been hit hard by COVID-19.

Victoria has major strengths across the creative industries. Our small to medium and independent sector is described in the Victorian Government’s strategy as a creative powerhouse, globally-connected, innovative and a source of local pride and enjoyment. Victoria is the national focus of visual and performing arts, music and design. We account for about half of Australia’s television drama production and half of Australia’s digital games sector, but much is at risk.

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Victoria’s state-owned cultural institutions anchor our global profile and reputation for cultural accomplishment. Before COVID-19 they hosted more than ten million local and international visitors each year, holding cultural collections worth more than $5 billion. Victoria is the home of philanthropic support for arts and culture – it’s the strongest in the nation. Our strong multicultural base has strengthened the arts in Victoria and continues to influence our creative and cultural offering. Key bodies like Multicultural Arts Victoria continue to bring the art and culture of our immigrant communities to the fore. Again, prior to COVID-19, officially Victoria’s creative industries made up 8% of the economy, contributing almost $23 billion and 289,000 jobs.

The COVID-19 crises and its devastating economic impact is unlike anything Victorians have witnessed in our lifetimes. In line with the unparalleled bipartisan response to the COVID-19 health emergency and the pressing need to get the economy recovering and new jobs underway as soon as possible, the Victorian Liberal Nationals recently made a series of recommendations for measures we would support to help restart the economy, including the creative industries.

Amongst other things, we recommend the State Government dip into the massive COVID-19 response resources provided to it by the Parliament in April to establish a $50 million Creative Industries Restoration Fund, in addition to already announced and welcome Victorian Government support.

Creative industries are being seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The creative industries and the arts on the early figures are the second most severely impacted sector. Department of Treasury and Finance modelling shows Victoria lost over 46,500 jobs in arts/recreation or 18% from 14 March to 4 April. The impact on the creative industries sector-wide is a much larger number. The cultural and creative sector employed an estimated 289,000 Victorians in 2018-19 and we believe the Victorian Government has a responsibility to facilitate the recovery of this sector to pre-COVID-19 employment levels by June 2021.

While the Commonwealth Government has reacted to the crisis with packages such as the JobKeeper package and the JobSeeker package, accessible to many in the traditional large companies, such as the orchestras, opera companies and galleries, not all have been able to access these programs or equivalent and this is a weakness in a federal response otherwise marked by a swift and well-resourced national intervention.

Not all have been able to access these programs or equivalent and this is a weakness in a federal response otherwise marked by a swift and well-resourced national intervention.

The Victorian Coalition Government between 2010 and 2014 instituted the highly successful White Night, which had gone from strength to strength. Concerningly, Labor had begun to tamper with the successful White Night formula, even before COVID-19. It is to be hoped that an early opportunity a full White Night can again occur, but as an interim measure, given the challenge of large crowds and the need for social distancing, the Coalition believes there should be, and would fund, a 2020 virtual White Night. Events such as White Night have not only supported the creative arts and unique innovation, but have also driven massive local employment and supported tourism. That is why our advocacy for a White Night expansion has called for a focus on additional regional cities. Separately, in Our Plan to get Victoria back to work and back in business, we have called for $200 million in regional tourism support.

Daniel Andrews has locked the state down hard. Initially, tough restrictions were warranted given the undoubted threat, but he and Labor have been slow to open up; slow to open up for cafes and restaurants, with Victoria still lagging behind every other state; slow to open up, with appropriate social distancing, pubs and clubs, with Victoria lagging weeks behind other comparable states. This is clearly important, not just to those sectors, but to the live music sector and other parts of the creative performance sector that rely on pubs and clubs.

The travel lockdown needs to be lifted now, with appropriate rules and proper social distancing in place. Tourism and the regional arts sector are heavily dependant, both in country Victoria and in Melbourne, on the ability of the community and patrons to move and visit. New South Wales has led the way, removing travel restrictions. It is time Victoria belatedly caught up.

The Victorian State Government has announced some packages of support for the creative industries, but they are not enough. Our $50 million Creative Industries Restoration Fund goes a lot further. It would provide active assistance and targeted support. We have called on Labor to adopt our idea.

Our $50 million Creative Industries Restoration Fund … would provide active assistance and targeted support. We have called on Labor to adopt our idea.

Outside venues may play a role in restoring early concerts and performances, given the favourable social distancing aspects of venues like the Myer Music Bowl. Government must lead on the development of a summer series taking advantage of Victoria’s great outdoors.

The damage to key companies is exacerbating pre-existing issues. In critical organisations like the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, a dispute between the highly-talented and world class musicians and management rumbles on. It needs to be resolved. There appears to be a leadership void given the Sydney Symphony Orchestra has reached a collaborative conclusion with its musicians. The continuing silence of Creative Industries Minister, Martin Foley, does not absolve him of responsibility to resolve this dispute. No matter how many times he washes his hands in this COVID-19 crisis, he will still be responsible for a solution to the MSO musicians’ problems.

In Opposition, our task is to scrutinise and hold the government to account. It is also to develop alternate policy and we will do so in the lead-up to the 2022 state election. In a time of crisis, like the COVID-19 crisis, one key role is to put forward propositions and ideas that the Government can adopt in the public interest. Our Plan to get Victoria back to work and back in business seeks to do this on a wide front, proposing ideas that government could adopt. It’s all about getting Victoria back to work and back in business, including our creative industries.

The Victorian Parliament has authorised the State Government to borrow $24.5 billion to spend this financial year and next financial year for COVID response. Some of this extraordinary surge in borrowings – to be added to the $50 billion the State already owes, bringing the total state debt to $75 billion – will be diverted by Daniel Andrews and his ministers to fund the cost overruns and blow outs on a series of major transport projects. The Opposition is very concerned the COVID destined money will be siphoned off to deal with the Government’s mismanagement. This risks leaving the creative industries and many other sectors short. The borrowings should be spent on new capital works that are shovel ready and support for hard hit sectors, like the creative industries.

Watch SOTAstream live on PerthNow – PerthNow

SOTAstream, the free, online festival showcasing the best music from local WA musicians will be live streamed here on PerthNow this WA Day, from 2pm to 8pm on Monday 1 June.

When: Monday 1 June

Time: 2pm – 8pm

Co-presented by WAM and Streamed live from Freo.Social

SOTA (State of the Art) Music Festival is back with a 2020 socially-distant edition – SOTAstream.

Featuring a dizzying line-up of local talent streamed live from music mecca Freo.Social straight to your living room, back yard, local park or wherever you are around our State, you will get a front row seat to the hottest event this WA Day long weekend.

With venues forced to close and artists unable to perform due to COVID-19, SOTAstream gives some of WA’s most recognisable musos the chance to get back performing in front of crowds, albeit separated by a screen.

The line-up stars outstanding fan favourites, in alphabetical order:

  • Abbe May
  • Carla Geneve
  • Drapht
  • Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse
  • Methyl Ethel
  • Psychedelic Porn Crumpets
  • San Cisco

Streaming live MONDAY 1 JUNE 2pm – 8pm (WST) here on PerthNow, so be sure to bookmark this page and come back to tune in and watch the live stream.

SOTAsteam is derived from the desire to support, nurture and grow creative opportunities for local artists, and position contemporary music as a leading cultural identifier for WA.

When is WA Day?

WA Day is always held on the first Monday in June. In 2020, it will be on Monday 1 June.

What is WA Day?

In April 2012, Foundation Day was formally changed to WA Day following bipartisan political support in the Western Australian Parliament.

This welcomed in a new era for the State with WA Day being a universal celebration of all Western Australians, recognising our Aboriginal history, early European settlers and the many people from all over the world who have made, and continue to make, Western Australia their home.

As a vast geographic area comprising many different urban, rural and regional communities, as well as being a very multicultural community, the emphasis for WA Day celebrations is on inclusion of all people no matter how long they have called themselves Western Australians.

Adelaide’s cultural tradition to be a force in post-pandemic recovery – InDaily


While the pandemic has largely shuttered Adelaide’s arts and entertainment industries, it has allowed an opportunity to reflect upon their value and successes and to plan to build upon the city’s cultural reputation during economic recovery, argues Douglas Gautier.

Photo: Nat Rogers / InDaily

As we continue to face the immediate issues of the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for the way ahead, I well recall taking the Hong Kong Arts Festival through the SARS outbreak in 2003, and trying to steer a pan-Asian TV travel channel through the decimating effects to the tourism industry of 9/11.

There are many parallels and differences to our current predicament, but one fundamental is the same: the belief in recovery and planning for it.

In Hong Kong in 2003 nearly 300 people died and all of us were mainly thinking about immediate survival, with public events being severely curtailed.

Nonetheless through this difficult time there was an optimism that it would eventually end and the community would start to prosper again. And that arts and entertainment would have an essential role to play in that bounce back.

Despite its terrible consequences, the current pandemic, like SARS and 9/11, gives us time and space to think about fitting responses and future initiatives.

For the creative and cultural sector it is an opportunity to take a fresh look at what our communities and audiences will want and need, and then get ready to deliver it to them.

Over the last few weeks in my role as Chair of the Asia Pacific Arts Centres network, I have listened to many thoughts on the recovery plans of more than 70 cultural organisations and precincts from Tokyo to Singapore, and Mumbai to Auckland.

Each in its own way acknowledged that we must all recognise changing civic and community needs as we go into recovery. Many see also the vital role of arts and entertainment precincts in city and state tourism rebuilds and that audience requirements will change and the demand for events that support wellbeing and health that are outdoor and free or low cost will grow.

Further, that the arts and creative sectors everywhere have a distinct capability to bring communities together and make sense of the current difficulties and future implications.

We all agreed that our sectors can meaningfully help rebuild public confidence.

So how might we apply some of this to Adelaide?

In recovery mode, our city will be presenting itself anew as an attractive and viable place to live, work, study, visit and invest.

The combined potential of our leisure and public precincts and the importance of community cohesion in this recovery are areas where the creative sector can make significant contributions.

Let me focus on two of our city precincts.

Firstly, Riverbank.

In the area between the Morphett and King William Street Bridges, we have a unique cluster of public attractions. There is arts and entertainment, sports, conventions and exhibitions, gaming, hotels and restaurants, all in a beautiful riverside setting. This is already a very valuable Adelaide asset, with even greater potential to be realised.

The new Festival Plaza will become its gateway and we will see all the organisations and partners within the precinct work together with the state government to better coordinate and present Riverbank’s collective attractions.

Similar cooperative thinking would also be useful for the North Terrace cultural grouping of the art gallery, museum, library and also the Adelaide Festival Centre.

Secondly, we need to support renewed momentum in the Chinatown/Market precinct. The impressive new Her Majesty’s Theatre will become an anchor attraction in this area which is already richly endowed with great restaurants, retail, many new hotel and residential developments, along with a truly multi-cultural character which well reflects the changing dynamic of modern Australian cities.

The new Maj in Grote Street is ready to resume work. Since first opening in 1913, she has seen South Australia through two World Wars, the 1919 pandemic and the Great Depression.

Now, completely redeveloped, and more inviting and accessible than ever, she will continue to serve South Australians as soon as it is safe for us to gather again.

The Asian Australian communities and students, living, working, shopping and dining alongside the Maj will be a big part of her future, providing a rich seam of new artists, new works and new audiences.

All these precinct opportunities mean enhanced, social, creative and economic benefits, community and visitor engagement, and more jobs.

Indeed, central to the preparation for the 1997 reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty and maintaining it as a world city into the 21st century was the determination to retain its edge as a creative industries hub.

There was a massive investment in the West Kowloon Cultural District – a strategic commitment for community, city tourism, their creative economy and international reputation. This sort of vision and initiative has served many Asian cities well through the diverse social and economic challenges of the past couple of decades.

Regrettably in our country the pandemic has also exposed vulnerable community fault lines. Thus, protecting our precious multicultural achievement and growing it through Australian/Asian cultural engagement and better involvement of Australian Asian communities is increasingly necessary now.

The Adelaide Festival Centre has over the last decade, become a national hub for this multicultural engagement. So the appointment of one our best Asian/Australian creative identities, Annette Shun Wah, to direct OzAsia Festival will reinforce Adelaide’s national leadership in this regard.

At the same time we must not forget the creative and economic significance of our reputation as the nation’s year-round festival capital – and those strongly branded arts festival events that we have nurtured over many years that make that reputation possible.

The Fringe, Womad, AFA, Dream Big, Cabaret, Guitar, Our Mob, OzAsia, History, Feast and Sala. All of them, albeit some currently in online form, clearly enhance the city’s attractions to locals and visitors.

Key to this success, is the sustaining of our artists, arts workers and organisations through these difficult times, and on to the road to recovery.

The experience of some of the hardest SARS hit cities in Asia was that cultural and entertainment activities and organisations were integral in the post pandemic reboot – not only in terms of community spirit and well-being, but also for real economic recovery.

Adelaide is a UNESCO creative city for music for good reason; there are outstanding musicians and music-making here. We must try and support all those music venues big and small, to be active again, when safe to do so.

In addition, the government is looking at the feasibility of a new music centre as a home for the ASO. And the Adelaide Festival Centre is working with the sector to develop the Playhouse complex as a renewed hub and platform for not only the State Theatre Company but also all small and medium performing arts companies.

As well as processing our shared dark days, the special capabilities of the arts will enable wide reflection on the many changes that are occurring around us.

These include strengthened connections with family, friends and a shared responsibility to protect vulnerable members of our community.

Again, drawing on the post SARS experience across Asia, I would say that there was a general recognition that arts and culture could help process negative emotions and be a therapeutic channel for collective concerns to be aired and shared with others.

I hope a new appreciation of the small but meaningful aspects of our daily lives will stay with us long after this current crisis has passed, and that these positive elements of our shared experience will percolate through the arts events we present and their relevance to audiences.

In all of this, I am confident that Adelaide will continue to be known across Australia and Asia Pacific as a creative capital that truly embraces and celebrates its diverse and multicultural community.

A wonderful and exceptional place to live, visit and enjoy.

Douglas Gautier is Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and artistic director

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A Section of Sydney to Be Named “Little Athens” in Honor of Greek Community – The National Herald

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – While Melbourne is known for having the largest population of Greeks in Australia, the renaming of an area in Sydney as “Little Athens” will honor the Greek community and its contributions in the country’s largest city, SBS News reported on April 30.

To honor Greek-Australians in the community, Sydney’s Inner West Council made the decisions to rename a precinct “Little Athens” SBS News reported, adding that the area to be renamed is in between the suburbs of Marrickville and Dulwich Hill, where the majority of Sydney’s Greek immigrants settled.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Bryne made the announcement on his social media pages on April 21, posting “BREAKING: Council has now resolved to officially rename a precinct in the Marrickville and Dulwich Hill as a Little Athens to honour the incredible contribution of Greek Australians to the Inner West. Please SHARE THE GOOD NEWS with Greeks you know,” along with the Greek and Australian flags.

He said that “Greek migrants made the bustling suburb what it is today,” SBS News reported.

“This is an act of symbolic recognition and respect for the incredible contributions that Greek migrants have made to the Inner West. They’ve made the Inner West the birthplace of Australian multiculturalism,” Mayor Bryne said, SBS News reported.

SBS News also noted the contributions of the Hellenic Art Theatre, “a staple in their community,” located in Marrickville, “founded in 1983 by Greek Cypriot Stavros Economidis, who migrated to Australia when he was young, [and] was introduced to the art of theatre by actor and mentor Chrysostomos Mantouridis.”

“I thought there was, at the time in ’65, the 70s, there was a demand for it,” Economidis told SBS News.

“Currently, the theatre’s lights are out due to coronavirus restrictions,” SBS News reported, noting that “after just two performances of the Greek play Plotos, Greek for ‘wealth,’ the show was put on hold, but the community is ready to bounce back.”

“We’re waiting on a razor’s edge, we can’t wait to come back,” said the theatre’s production manager Evelyn Tsavalas, SBS News reported, adding that “Tsavalas is among many in the community born to Greek Cypriot immigrants.”

Plays at the Hellenic Art Theatre have been performed with supertitles for the last 20 years, SBS News reported, noting that “Tsavalas said when they perform the Greek classics – from tragedies to comedies and contemporary classics – they see the biggest attendance from non-Greek speakers.” 

Tsavalas and Economidis also run “theatre workshops for children which they say not only build confidence among young people but help keep the Greek language and culture alive,” SBS News reported.

Greek-Australian filmmaker Alex Lykos, was born and raised in Marrickville, SBS News reported. In a previous interview, Lykos spoke with The National Herald about his 2015 film, Alex & Eve, which began as a play performing to sold-out crowds in the area. He told SBS News, “We started playing to an audience the size of 50, then it went to 150, and then audiences started reaching 400 a night, which for independent theatre is good.

“They saw themselves on the stage and that’s what got them to bring their families, their relatives. People who normally wouldn’t go to the theatre were coming to watch this show because they could connect to it. This has been happening for 60 years or so, people grinding away, telling stories that come from the area we’ve grown up in.”

“The latest census showed up to 400,000 Australians have Greek ancestry and almost half live in Melbourne,” SBS News reported.

University of New South Wales historian Nick Doumanis told SBS News that “what many people didn’t realize is that Sydney had the largest Greek community at the beginning of the century,” and “Melbourne outdid it only after World War II.” 

“Most Greek-Australians came here after the Second World War with very little, hardly anything in their suitcases, and decided they would make a living here to try and find security and build a life. And they made the most with what Australia offered them,” Professor Doumanis told SBS News.

An area of Sydney is being renamed ‘Little Athens’ in honour of Greek-Australians – SBS News

Ask any Greek-Australian in Sydney and they’ll tell you the Hellenic Art Theatre in Marrickville is a staple in their community.

Founded in 1983 by Greek Cypriot Stavros Economidis, who migrated to Australia when he was young, he was introduced to the art of theatre by actor and mentor Chrysostomos Mantouridis. 

“I thought there was, at the time in ’65, the 70s, there was a demand for it,” Economidis told SBS News.

“People didn’t have anywhere to go culturally [in Australia] and that was one thing that would keep our culture alive, and the language.”

Evelyn Tsavalas and Stavros Economidis have pressed pause on their current play due to COVID-19.

Charlotte Lam / SBS News

Currently, the theatre’s lights are out due to coronavirus restrictions. After just two performances of the Greek play Plotos, Greek for ‘wealth’, the show was put on hold. 

But the community is ready to bounce back. 

“We’re waiting on a razor’s edge, we can’t wait to come back,” said the theatre’s production manager Evelyn Tsavalas.

Tsavalas is among many in the community born to Greek Cypriot immigrants.

Greek migrants and their contribution to Australia are being honoured.

Supplied

Greek-Australians honoured

To thank the efforts of Greek-Australians in the community, including those responsible for the Hellenic Art Theatre company, Sydney’s Inner West Council is renaming a precinct ‘Little Athens’. 

The designated area is in between the suburbs of Marrickville and Dulwich Hill, where the majority of Sydney’s Greek migrants moved to.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Bryne announced the decision on his social media pages last week. 

He said Greek migrants made the bustling suburb what it is today.

“This is an act of symbolic recognition and respect for the incredible contributions that Greek migrants have made to the Inner West,” he said.

“They’ve made the Inner West the birthplace of Australian multiculturalism.”

Why Sydney’s Inner West is becoming ‘Little Athens’

Attracting new audiences 

For the past 20 years, the Hellenic Art Theatre has been using surtitles so everyone can enjoy the productions.

Tsavalas said when they perform the Greek classics – from tragedies to comedies and contemporary classics – they see the biggest attendance from non-Greek speakers. 

Along with Economidis, she also runs regular theatre workshops for children which they say not only build confidence among young people but help keep the Greek language and culture alive. 

The Hellenic Art Theatre’s artistic director Stavros Economidis says the theatre has helped Greek culture thrive in Sydney over the decades.

Charlotte Lam / SBS News

Filmmaker Alex Lykos was born and raised in Marrickville.

His films are often based in its suburban streets, with plots that have strong Greek undertones.

One of his most popular has been the 2015 film Alex & Eve, which started out as a play performing to sold-out audiences in the area.

It tells the story of a Greek Orthodox teacher who falls in love with a Lebanese Muslim lawyer. 

Alex Lykos in the play Alex and Eve, which became a feature film.

Supplied

“We started playing to an audience the size of 50, then it went to 150, and then audiences started reaching 400 a night, which for independent theatre is good,” he said.

“They saw themselves on the stage and that’s what got them to bring their families, their relatives. People who normally wouldn’t go to the theatre were coming to watch this show because they could connect to it.

“This has been happening for 60 years or so, people grinding away, telling stories that come from the area we’ve grown up in.”

The latest census showed up to 400,000 Australians have Greek ancestry and almost half live in Melbourne.

Historian Nick Doumanis from the University of New South Wales said what many people didn’t realise is that Sydney had the largest Greek community at the beginning of the century.

Melbourne outdid it only after World War II. 

“Most Greek-Australians came here after the second world war with very little, hardly anything in their suitcases, and decided they would make a living here to try and find security and build a life. And they made the most with what Australia offered them,” Professor Doumanis said. 

“Gradually, some things from Greek culture would then spread out into the community. So, for example, that interest Australians have in olives I think is primarily our influence – though Italians might have something to say about that.”

At the Hellenic Art Theatre, the team can’t wait to get back to business and keep their culture alive.

“The theatre has been built by us, by our own volunteers, with a lot of sweat, and we’re not going to let that go. It’s very important to us,” Tsavalas said.

“As long as we’re here, the theatre will be.”

Would you like to share your story with SBS News? Email yourstory@sbs.com.au

Applause: Latest funding and awards announced – ArtsHub

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How the coronavirus pandemic could shift the multicultural make-up of our society – ABC News

Excluding international students and migrant workers from emergency economic measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic could lead to unintended economic consequences, migration experts have warned.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told international students and temporary visa holders they should “return to their home countries” if they were not able to support themselves in Australia.

The message was a jarring one for many in Australia’s million-strong migrant workforce, and demographers warn the stance could cause the country’s economy to take a post-pandemic hit, as well as alter the multicultural fabric of Australian society.

There are also concerns that Australia’s lacklustre response to international students’ needs could push them away and deal a blow to Australia’s fourth-largest export sector.

International education contributed $37.6 billion to the economy in the last financial year and supported 240,000 jobs, according to Government figures.

David Bogi, from India, said he had saved up and worked hard to be able to study at the University of Melbourne.(Supplied)

Melbourne University student David Bogi, who came from India to study a masters of international journalism in Australia, told the ABC he was “not surprised” but “extremely disheartened” by Mr Morrison’s message.

Mr Bogi was one of more than 750,000 international students Australia hosted last year, with the majority from China and India.

Mr Bogi said he paid significant university fees and also contributed to the economy by working and paying taxes, adding that those who paid taxes should also be eligible to receive benefits.

While he had saved scrupulously to study in Australia, he said his savings was now depleting rapidly after he lost his job due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s a familiar story for Yunan Lin, who is studying a master’s degree in engineering at the University of Melbourne.

Yunan Lin said he was also “greatly disappointed” with Mr Morrison’s message.(Supplied)

The 24-year-old lost his only source of income after losing his part-time job at a restaurant when it switched to selling just takeaway.

Mr Lin said he was also “greatly disappointed” with Mr Morrison’s message, especially as he had made the effort to transit through Thailand — and stay there for 14 days — before being allowed to return Australia to study and work to pay his rent.

“Mr Morrison simplified the issue or had no awareness of the complexity of this problem.

“We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to study in Australia, but this developed country — which teaches about humanitarianism and democracy — cannot understand how much our families have suffered in this global pandemic.”

Mr Lin’s parents are also struggling financially after being forced to close their restaurant back in his hometown in China for months.

Economic shocks and costs

Dr Liz Allen said Australia would also be “economically and culturally poorer” as a result of near-zero international migration.(ABC News: Michael Barnett)

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said there was an expectation international students could support themselves in the first year. Those who have been in Australia for more than 12 months will be able to access their superannuation.

According to the Department of Home Affairs website, international students need to have enough money to pay for 12 months of living costs for them and any family members who travel with them to Australia.

The Department estimated that to be $21,041 per student or guardian.

Global migration expert Anna Boucher, who has written about COVID-19 posing a “migration crisis”, said some people working in the sector believe the “asset testing” — or cost of living benchmark — for students looking to study in Australia was quite low.

“One argument is that they’re expected to be frugal, another is it’s unrealistic,” said Dr Boucher, an associate professor at the University of Sydney.

“It allows a high number of students to gain admission, but then they’re really reliant on those part-time jobs.

According to a recent survey by Unions NSW, half of the migrant workers surveyed have lost their jobs, while a fifth have had their hours reduced.

Dr Boucher added it was possible for the impact of COVID-19 on international students in Australia to be “a game changer” for how students make their decisions on where to study in the future.

Brian Schmidt, Vice-Chancellor of Australian National University, told the ABC’s RN Breakfast that student numbers at the university were already down by about 10 per cent, which was currently “manageable”.

“But the uncertainty of the second semester, where the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic hits our students, I think we do not know whether or not we’re going to have that 10 per cent hit or 40 or 50 per cent, we just cannot tell.”

ANU and Melbourne University are among several tertiary institutions to have created emergency relief funds for students.

Mr Schmidt said universities will need to continue working with the Government over the next few months to find a solution.

“We’re going to need to find a way forward, because if we don’t there will be universities [that will be] a shadow of their former selves, the system will be a shadow of its former self.”

Mr Schmidt also pointed out that many students had no other options and couldn’t go back to their countries, even if they wanted to.

“The universities are carrying the can right now, but it is something that we need to work with government and I think we both have responsibility in this area, but it’s a shared responsibility.”

‘Australia will be economically and culturally poorer’

Australia could become more insular as a result of the pandemic.(ABC News: Tegan Osborne)

Dr Boucher said for high-migration countries like Australia, immigration is “interconnected with every single aspect of the economy”.

She noted that Australia’s 2019 budget estimates showed an underlying assumption in the budget surplus calculation tied to high levels of net overseas migration (NOM), estimated to rise to 263,000 in 2022.

But as the Government also put an annual cap on permanent entry in 2019 at 160,000, she argued that the bulk of that NOM can now be expected to come from temporary migrants “who are also lucrative to the state of the budget as net contributors to Australia”.

“Most temporary migrants are workers who pay tax. Fewer are of schooling or retirement age, so they place less pressure on social services, from which they are often excluded in any case through a general requirement to take out health insurance,” she wrote.

Liz Allen, a demographer from ANU, said Australia would also be “economically and culturally poorer” as a result of near-zero international migration due to border lockdowns.

“Nativism is likely to creep in and take greater hold, resulting in a rise of racism and discriminatory practises,” she said.

She said Australia “desperately needed” migrants to stay and contribute to maintaining the economy and, in time, rebuilding after the pandemic passes.

“But the lack of social and economic supports could see migrants leave the country in pursuit of better options,” she said.

Dr Allen added she was hopeful that Australians would confront any growth in racism, but that it required good leadership from government and community to do so effectively.

“Whether we like it or not, admit it or not, Australia still has a problem with white Australia policy sentiments,” she said.

“Australia still has white Australia hang-ups: many people in Australia were raised during the white Australia policy, raised by those who grew up under the white Australia policy, or socialised into the false notion Australia is a white nation with a white history.

A Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said in a statement the “Government’s current focus is on keeping Australians in work and business as we battle the impacts of COVID-19”.

They said the Government had also announced changes to temporary visa holder arrangements on April 4 “in order to protect the health of our community, safeguard job opportunities for Australians, support critical industries … and assist with rapid recovery post-virus.”

Those changes include enabling most temporary visa holders with work rights to access their Australian superannuation and allowing international students to work up to 40 hours per fortnight.

“Australia is a successful multicultural country built on many waves of formal migration post-World War II,” the spokesperson said.

“Migration makes a substantial contribution to Australia’s economic prosperity, national wellbeing and social cohesion.

“The Government is closely monitoring migration and visa settings to ensure they are consistent with public health measures, are flexible, and do not displace job opportunities for Australians so that Australia can deal with the immediate and post recovery impacts of COVID-19.”

‘Treated as lower-class residents’

Wenli is in Australia from Wuhan on a working holiday visa.(Supplied)

Wenli, who is in her 30s and comes from Wuhan — the initial epicentre of the outbreak — is one of many Asians in Australia who have expressed concern about increased racism due to COVID-19.

She is on a working holiday visa and lost her job at a tourist company in North Queensland around three weeks ago.

She had worked for the company for eight months full-time but was denied any compensation for being laid off and was not eligible for any social welfare benefits.

For now, she has relocated to Sydney.

“I was also worried about violence against Asians [in regional areas]. It was reported a lot in the news lately. I think Sydney is safer,” she said.

She said Mr Morrison’s stance on temporary visa holders like her “is legal and has logic”, but still stung.

“International students and people on temporary visas are treated as lower-class residents. I felt like after living in Australia for a while, I’m now used to this.”

And it’s not just international students and working holiday visa holders who are struggling.

Professor Boucher said she couldn’t “think of a single area of migration that is not affected” by COVID-19 in Australia.

In parts of Australia where there are adequate support services, migrant workers have lead to positive growth for rural towns.(Tom Edwards)

There has been some reprieve for some workers, however, with the Government announcing last Saturday they would allow Pacific seasonal workers whose visas were due to expire to stay and work in Australia for another 12 months.

“This will enable them to support themselves and continue to make a critical contribution to Australia’s agriculture sector and food security,” according to a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Alex Hawke, Minister for International Development and the Pacific.

“Pacific and Timorese workers are highly valued by agricultural employers, who have made it clear they want Pacific workers to be able to remain here and continue working.

While seasonal workers have received support from the Government, many temporary migrants are still waiting for good news.

“There’s a broader question around when do we become responsible for people,” Dr Boucher said.

“Instead of just throwaway comments like ‘go home’, I think we need to go back to ‘OK, we can’t help everybody, but we do have an obligation to some’.

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

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