submitted by James Victor Prineas on 04.05.2014
Over 300 people joined in a night of Greek feasting under the stars on Saturday to celebrate the opening by the NSW Governor, Her Excellency, Dr. Marie Bashir, of the Roxy Greek Museum.
Other official guests included Minister for the Arts and Kytherian cafe kid, The Hon George Souris, Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, Ambassador of Greece, Charalambos Dafaranos, President of the Kytherian Association of Australia Victor Kepreotis, and Roxy Museum Committee Trust members, Peter Prineas, and George Poulos.
The governor spoke about the way the Greek people had fitted into creating what is the Australian spirit.
“Beautiful Bingara has given so much to our state over the years in so many ways, contributing to the great sense of community, to our soldiers who went to two world wars and indeed, to that sense of mateship and rural prosperity", Dr Bashir said.
“Major contributors to that sense of community and wellbeing have been the members of the Greek community who have gone to so many country towns and added to the culture and prosperity of those country towns such as Bingara.”
Dr. Bashir spoke of the contribution the Greek people have made to civilisation over thousands of years.
“Now the wise people of Bingara, Cr. Coulton and your fellow councillors have had the wisdom to realise that this wonderful piece of heritage will now be held in the hearts and minds of future citizens of Bingara and all those with Greek Heritage.”
Dr. Bashir unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion.
Grand Opening of the Roxy Museum
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Bingara is located approximately 600kms north of Sydney and 500kms south of Brisbane in the New England Tablelands. It lies centrally in the New England North West region, between the major towns of Tamworth, Armidale, Inverell, Moree and Narrabri. Since 1999, first Bingara Shire Council and subsequently Gwydir Shire Council, have improved and expanded the Roxy 'complex'.
The Roxy Manager during the first decade was Sandy McNaughton. Her superior management skills, vision, attention to detail, and unbridled optimism were instrumental in creating 'the Roxy complex'. In April 2014, the final stage of the Roxy complex was completed.
On the weekend of the 5th and 6th April, the Roxy Greek Museum was opened to extraordinary fanfare and a deeply appreciative audience. “There was certainly a buzz amongst the local community as well as the Greek community across Australia” said John Wearne, Roxy Greek Museum Committee Member, and former mayor of Bingara. People were absolutely amazed when they saw it. We knew the museum was going to be special, but it has exceeded our expectations. It is world-class,” said Mr Wearne.
The Museum was made possible by a $94,000 grant from the New South Wales Ministry for Arts, and several equally substantial donations from the Greek Australian Community, and a significant contribution from Gwydir Shire Council. Prominent Greek Australian donors included the Aroney Trust, the Kytherian Association of Australia, Nick Politis, the Aroney family, Nick Andriotakis, Angelo Notaras, amongst many others.
The museum was officially opened on Saturday 5th April 2014 by Her Excellency, Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of New South Wales, with an opening as grand as the Roxy itself. Distinguished guests who spoke at the launch included, Cr. John Coulton the Mayor of Gwydir Shire Council, Dr Victor Kepreotis, President of the Kytherian Association of Australia, Mark Coulton, the Federal Member for Parkes, Adam Marshall, State Member for Northern Tablelands the Honourable George Souris, NSW Minister for Tourism and the Arts, His Excellency Haris Dafaranos, The Ambassador for Greece.
George Souris was “glad I was able come and be part of this unique celebration. Congratulations and thanks to Gwydir Shire Council, the Roxy Museum Committee, curator Peter Prineas, the generous donors, and all involved. 300 visitors to Bingara is no mean feat, but then neither is the Roxy”.
The Roxy has four patrons. Bingara locals Nancy McGuiness and John Wearne, who were instrumental in persuading Bingara Council to purchase the Roxy Cinema in the late 1990's. Also, Peter Prineas, Roxy a grandson of Peter Feros, one of the three founders of the Roxy, and Australian actor and performer John Wood. John was the only one of the four patrons who could not attend because of work commitments. He noted however, that "I've not often been in love with a building, in fact, I think The Roxy is probably the only building I've ever been in love with. I'm sure you Bingarians would understand why. Many of you there today will remember how much I enjoyed my last visit for the opening of the Roxy Cafe. An honorary Greek in the person of Yiannis Xylo was unleashed on an unsuspecting public, drinking more than was good for him and almost breaking his neck in wild, if ageing attempts to take screamers in the form of tossed plates, in what had become for the night, City Square....I hope your Museum opening is a huge and unqualified success. I look forward to one day bringing another show to this most precious of theatres".
The Master of Ceremonies Peter, Samios, performed his duties impeccably. Greek dancing was performed by Joanna Tsakarides, Penelope Samios, Melina Andrew, Peter Faros, Stan Sklias, and Bill Tsoukalas, from the Kytherian Association dance troupe. Bingarians and other attendees from the NSW north west were stunned by the dancing display.
As part of the two-day event there were guided tours of the museum, movie screenings in the beautiful Roxy theatre, talks by special guests, and antique car displays. The highlight of the weekend was the Gala Dinner held on the Saturday evening, which was attended by 320 guests. Bringing the glamour of the 1930s back to Bingara, the dinner was an unforgettable evening of Greek feasting and festivity under the stars. The main street was blocked off, and the Gala Ball was held in an open ‘platteia’ with a Greek 'panayiri' style atmosphere.
Guests danced the night away to the live band Ha Va Le, from Brisbane, under bandmaster Dimitri Prineas. Ha Va Le is one of the best Greek party bands performing in Australia. No Greek celebration would be complete without the smashing of plates, and the Gala Dinner was no exception.
The festivities continued into Sunday with stalls and the launch of the Greek Immigration Olive grove which was marked by a tree planting ceremony held on Cunningham Street adjacent to the Roxy Cafe. The olive trees were planted in recognition of Greek migration to Australia. Greek-Australians, local residents and visitors were given the opportunity to pay tribute to a Greek family or friend who has migrated to Australia by purchasing an olive tree.
The 8 trees next to the Roxy Café will sell for $500 each. A number were purchased on the day. Other trees will be planted along Cunningham Street, and into a Avenue of Olive Trees Memorial Garden.pdf that leads to the ecologically based “Living Classroom” area, nearby. These trees will sell for $100.00 each. Participants are asked to provide a name and a brief description about the family member or friend which will appear on the Roxy Greek Museum website, and a tree will be planted as a tribute. Order your commemorative olive tree, here.
On Sunday morning, the first tree planted as part of the launch was dedicated to the three Greek-Australians who built the Roxy Theatre in 1936 - Emanuel Aroney, Peter Feros and George Psaltis. Peter Prineas, the grandson of Peter Feros, Peter Aroney, grandson of Emmanuel Aroney, and Arthur Stathakis, godson of George Psaltis, planted the tree in their honour.
The Roxy Museum is dedicated to the history of Greek settlement in rural Australia. It is envisioned the museum will become a place of national significance that conserves and protects the important cultural association between Greek Australians and the places in Australia where they chose to live, work and raise a family. It will pay tribute to the remarkable legacy of the Greek cafe proprietors and cinema operators, ensuring the impact they made on the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of Australian’s is not forgotten.
Deep appreciation was conferred upon Peter Prineas who worked extremely hard to ensure that the Museum was curated to a world class standard. The work he did “behind the scenes” was extraordinary. Without his input the Museum would have cost far more to install.
The Museum designers, Convergence Associates of Camberwell, Melbourne, Victoria, also excelled themselves. The principals, Jenni Klempfner, Russell Magee, and Boyce Pizzey, have designed numerous important Museums in Australia and New Zealand including the Museo Italiano, the Newcastle Maritime Museum, the Defense of Darwin Museum, and displays in the National Archives in New Zealand. See, the Convergence Associates website . Jenni Klempfner considers the Roxy “a regional treasure…My background is in architecture, and to come across a building like that - it’s a jewel - a building that’s been wonderfully loved and nurtured, both in its inception, and in the last fifteen years since the council has owned it.”
A very special commendation goes to Roxy Manager Georgia Standerwick, for the event management skills she displayed in coordinating the Roxy Museum opening, and the grand Ball. She also chaired the Roxy Museum Committee, and oversaw the installation of the Museum. Her father is Greek, and her empathy with and understanding of the Greek 'ethos' shone through all her achievements, and all the events on the weekend. Also to Tim Cox, Assistant Finance Manager, Gwydir Shire Council, who ensured that the event was well financed, and 'ran to budget'.
Max Eastcott, General Manager at Gwydir Shire Council, and Leeah Daley, Assistant General Manager, should also be acknowledged with deep gratitude. Over more than a decade they have ensured that the 'vision' of the Roxy complex, particularly its Greek facet, has received the unmitigated support of the Gwydir Shire Council. Council Executives with less vision and courage may not have 'followed through' with the Project.
“The Greek Australian community is passionate about the Roxy because it is a living and working memorial to every Greek Australian who has migrated to Australia since 1817,” said George Poulos, Roxy Greek Museum Committee member, and Secretary of the Kytherian Association of Australia. This is not a static museum. Incorporated within the Roxy complex is an Information Centre, a working Cinema, a working “Greek” café, a (TAFE) hospitality training college, fully equipped with an industrial kitchen, and a conference room. All have been built and restored to the highest standard, and all compliment and are integrated into the Greek Australian Museum.
This is the only site in Australia which incorporates within one very large building so many facets of Greek heritage. Convergence, Gwydir Shire and the Roxy Museum Committee all conceive the ‘whole’ of the Roxy complex as one integrated Greek Australian Museum. “Eventually it will become a place of pilgrimage for every Greek in Australia, and inevitably – every Greek in the world” said George. All Greek-Australians should avail themselves of any opportunity to make the pilgrimage to the Roxy 'complex', Bingara.
By the year 2035 most Greek cafes and cinemas in Australia will have ceased trading or been demolished. Because of the substantial capital outlay on the Roxy ‘complex’ - now insured for a staggering $6 million dollars - this Greek memorial, heritage, pilgrimage and sacred site will assuredly be the last Greek site of such significance left standing.
The Roxy Museum was conceived as a Greek-Australian museum. It should always be considered as such. However, George Poulos believes, that "to the degree that Kytherians dominated the 'shop-keeping phenomenon' in Australia, and by virtue of the Kytherian input into its inception and restoration, it could also be considered a Kytherian-Australian museum. By virtue of the grandeur of the building, the superiority of the displays, and the monetary value of the Roxy 'complex', it is undoubtedly the most significant 'Kytherian' Museum in the world."
For more information you can call the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on (02) 6724 0066 or visit Gwydir Shire's Roxy Museum website and, the Roxy Museum main page on kythera-family.net
More web links:
Program, History & Articles about the Roxy Greek Museum Opening
View/download .pdf of the Invitation, here:
Roxy March Promo (2).pdf
NSW Governor to open Roxy Greek Museum
Download a .pdf version of this article here:
Bingara Advocte Weds Feb 5 2014 NSW Gov to open Roxy Museum.pdf
Bingara Advocte Weds April 9th 2014 Kytherian Celebrations.pdf
Roxy complex wins admiration from NSW Arts Minister, April 16th, 20114, page 4
Buffer Map of the distances from Bingara to major cities of Kytherian and Hellenic population
Download a .pdf version of the buffer map here:
Roxy Theatre, Gwydir Shire
Roxy THEATRE Main Page
Roxy CAFE Main Page
Roxy MUSEUM Main Page. Overview of the history of the Roxy, published in the Royal Historical Society magazine
Restoration of Kytherian and Hellenic Sacred sites
Katsehamos and the Great Idea, the BOOK, Main Page
75th Anniversary and official opening of the Roxy Cafe
Media Release Roxy's 75th Anniversary
Neos Kosmos article on Katsehamos and the Great Idea
A Night at the ROXY. Neos Kosmos
Nicholas Anthony Aroney Trust donates $25,000 to Roxy Museum
Roxy turns 75. The Senior News
Happy 75th Birthday ROXY. Bingara Advocate
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