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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 22 October 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 22 OCTOBER 2016 21 HERITAGE posting material online, insists on the material's vitality. "It is relatively easy for the material to travel, and we're open to suggestions," she says. "We have a lot to learn from other centres possessing similar material, such as the Holy Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; during a recent trip there, I met with some of its members and we exchanged ideas on future collaborations." ADDITIONS TO THE ARCHIVES One of the key issues for the future of the archives is that of possible additions to the material, something that is of interest for the Society of Hellenic Studies. "I know that there is a treasure hidden in the homes of our fellow community members, and some of this material could be added to what is already established," says Mr. Revis. "I would say that the archives could play a major role as the ark of the Hellenic diaspora. We're already discussing potential collaborations with other centres of the diaspora." This may prove to be difficult, as Mr Mackie all but dismisses the idea of additions made to the specific collection, due to lack of space. "What can be done," he says, "is working with organisations such as the Greek Community of Melbourne, which is in possession of relevant material. We have the know-how and we're more than happy to provide it." George Pagkalis, after all, represents the GCM in the Committee of Hellenic Studies and the Community's president, Bill Papastergiadis, has often expressed his support to this project, deeming it "an integral part of the community's core, showcasing not only its traditions, but also its achievements in Australia". The GCM and its current board recently got to organising their own archives, commissioning Juliana Harpantidou to research and write the organisation's history. "The Dardalis Archives are a real treasure," she says. "I never anticipated coming across all this wealth of material, a real treat for anyone doing research on the presence of Greek migrants in Australia." ACCESSIBILITY IS THE KEY We asked Dr Maria Herodotou, head of the Greek Studies Department at LaTrobe University, to offer her insight on ways that the program could use the archives. "Historically, the Greek Studies Department preceded the National Centre for Hellenic Studies and Research," she says. "The latter's creation led to different entities; on one hand the Greek Studies Program had a strictly academic and research role, as well as offering post-graduate studies, while the centre was doing the research and collection of archival material and collaborating with universities and community organisations. It is wrong to assume that the two entities collaborated; if it happened it was because members of the faculty were also participating in the centre's committees, and because the centre's director was also teaching and supervising MA and PhD papers for the program. "What we are mostly concerned about at the moment is how to further develop the Greek Studies Department and then, how to use the Dardalis Archives. This could create the potential for further research and further development of post-graduate programs, which should be one of the basic objectives. This should exceed the Greek boundaries. The material should be made known and accessible to all universities, in Australia and abroad, studying the issue of migration, diaspora, multiculturalism etc. "This is why accessibility is important, and why digitisation is important, as it allows for everyone to have direct access. So far, the archives have often been used by students and members of the faculty of the Greek Studies Department, as a basis for diatribes and scientific announcements. This could be enhanced. "Furthermore, the archives can be instrumental in the promotion of Greek Studies. This can be achieved through establishing relationships with community and state schools, organised visits to campuses, exhibitions and conferences. But first, the university needs to decide whether it will permanently house the archives, and whether they're going to hire the experienced staff needed. That's why it all starts with accessibility." Professor Mackie has some further insight: "At the moment, we're considering merging the Greek Studies Program with the archives and hire the academic and other staff needed," he says, stating this as the ideal solution. "I am not in a position to go into specifics as yet, given that we're still in discussions. For the time being, the archives are part of the library, but that will stop at the end of the year." One more reason to act fast and reach the right decisions, bearing in mind the future of the archives, as well as the further development of the Greek Studies Program. When the financial doctrine echoes ‘Megalo! Megalo! Megalo!’ NIKOS FOTAKIS* Crowds flock to the Royal Academy of Arts in London to see the 'Abstract Expressionism' exhibition and admire Jackson Pollock's 1952 masterpiece Blue Poles, which is featured, on loan from the National Gallery of Australia. Most art lovers who stand in awe in front of the painting are completely oblivious to the controversy still surrounding the work of art, which dates back to 1973, when Gough Whitlam put his signature on the documents allowing for the purchase, igniting a debate of whether $1.3 million is too high a price for a work of art. It is proof of Australia's entanglement in what are definitely 'first world problems' that the jury is still out, after all these years of display, and reverence and school visits and tourists paying to see it. The magnificent painting will be on display in London till January 2017 but it could apply for an artwork asylum, if such a thing existed. Because when it comes back to Canberra, it may be facing hostile ground. According to some estimates, the painting is now valued at $100 million. According to others, it is close to $350m. Which is why it should be sold. Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson certainly thinks so, and he has explicitly suggested the government put a 'for sale' label on the painting, as part of its budget correction policy. The 28-year-old, who is affiliated with the Institute of Public Affairs libertarian think tank, did not stop there. He suggested the government performed deep cuts to the arts and sports sectors. "A $39 billion deficit last year. It's not a time when we can really be affording luxury. We've got to look at all areas of spending," he said, echoing the mantra of every libertarian and neo-liber- al opinion leader all over the world. As prudent as this may sound, it is actually not wise at all, not only because it reeks of a barbaric ignorance of the significance of the arts, but also because it offers no financial value, reducing economic policy to dull arithmetic and accounting. The 28-yearold senator's argument for selling the painting is that it is not an Australian work of art but an American one. By stating this, he proves that he has no understanding of what art even is; great art is ecumenical, it does not belong to any country, it transcends the barriers of time and space, speaking to the whole of humanity. Especially in Australia, a nation comprising a vast array of nations, the idea of a work of art coming from the US to become a national treasure should not be considered as anything but natural, a symbol of the country's values. In fact, the association of Blue Poles with the Whitlam administration should elevate the painting to being a symbol of the policies initiated in that era and enhanced by Malcolm Fraser that led to Australia becoming the multicultural beacon it is today. So, maybe the senator needs to take some arts classes to understand how the world, or even his country, works, instead of preaching for cuts to arts funding. He might be pleasantly surprised to find that arts are not a luxury; they are essential to our society's function. Maybe it's too much to expect from Liberals to acknowledge that; the poor lot are so absorbed by their free market dogma that they can't see beyond it. All they care about is how to let the private sector have a free pass to create businesses and employment. It is also too much to expect from a 28-yearold senator to have actually sought after em- ployment. Because, as anyone who has filled out a job application in the past few years knows all too well, job hunting nowadays has nothing to do with the tangible requirements of the past. Nowadays, the human resources jargon is filled with words such as ‘forward thinking’, ‘envelope-pushing’, ‘organic growth’ and of course, in the end, it is all about ‘leadership’ and ‘problem solving’. Well, guess what? These are exactly the skills one gets by getting an arts education. Acclaimed musician David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) argues extensively about this, in his book How Music Works, saying that governments should actually spend more on the arts if they want to train people to take command and be inventive in their professional lives. He supports his argument by stating reports by independent observers and education professionals. But what is more concerning in the libertarian approach far exceeds their attitude towards the arts. It is their notion that in order to ‘repair the budget’, all they have to do is cut spending and sell some assets. It doesn't matter that running a nation is nothing like running a household or a business. A government is not an enterprise, it does not have to show profit, it has one task and nothing but: to look after its people, provide services, make their lives better. That's why we vote people to parliamentary positions. One would expect that a young senator would show some significant 'problem solving', especially considering that the Australian economy is at a crossroads after the demise of the mining sector and the shutdown of the automobile industry. People look to their political leaders for answers and ideas to restart the economy, to create jobs, to give directions. Instead, what we get is the equivalent of a ga- rage sale. Anything to get some money − even if that means selling an internationally-acclaimed work of art to cover less than ten per cent of the budget hole. Greece knows all too well about garage sales. Surrendering sovereignty to its lenders, the government recently legislated for the transition of a series of assets to a 'superfund'. The word 'superfund' itself, with all its pop culture connotations, brings to mind a Eurotrash pop group, which is a good metaphor for the Tsipras government. After completing the sale of the Piraeus port, to which it was firmly objecting up to 2015, it is now going to 'privatise' water in the major cities, thus replacing a state monopoly with a private one. As far as neo-liberal policies go, this has the word 'failure' written all over it, especially given that, in most developed countries − and especially in Europe − water is the only thing that is promptly returning to state and municipal ownership. In the end, Greece might as well sell everything, from its railroads to the Acropolis, and still have no idea as to what kind of economy it should have in order to flourish. The same is true of most countries. The Global Financial Crisis brought capitalism to its limits. Despite the world's governments coming to the banks' rescue (let's savour this for a moment: those who preach for small government actually owing their survival to the state funds), we have already entered a new era. All economies are interconnected, nothing is certain and the old rules don't apply. We need leadership, creative thinking and problem solving. And instead we get an army of Franco Cozzos shouting "Megalo! Megalo! Megalo!". * With thanks to Julien Wilson, musician extraordinaire, for his contribution.
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