YES, the razzle dazzle of the Centenary is almost upon us, as Canberrans will discover tonight when the public packs into the Playhouse for the festive launch of a century.
Certainly, the event will be enhanced by stars such as former Bangarra Dance Theatre dancer Djakapurra Munyarrayan, but there is no getting away from it, all eyes will be on Centenary of Canberra creative director Robyn Archer herself as she delivers the massive “Volume 1” – summer and autumn – of the celebrations ahead.
It would be very easy, executive director for the Centenary, Jeremy Lasek, earlier told the press, to find another 500 people worth interviewing, but this is Archer’s week.
She’ll be taking off soon to Burley Griffin pilgrimage sites in Lucknow and Chicago, to New Delhi, to London, where she’ll be the first woman to give the Arthur Boyd address and to Washington where ambassador Kim Beazley will throw a publicity-seeking party.
And, yes, the ever optimistic Archer assured the press, the world will want to know about Canberra, still the world’s best planned “garden city”. So will the rest of Australia, including neighbouring Queanbeyan, celebrating its 175th birthday?
How to get the nation excited?
On the sporting front, the Brumbies and other Canberra teams will hold dedicated centenary matches.
In the arts, there will be celebrations of Aboriginal Australia, with a special focus on activist-writer Kevin Gilbert, on home-grown Canberra creativity, on a commissioned work by the Australian Ballet dedicated to Aldo Giurgola’s Parliament House, on the big public “Centenary Symphony” commissioned from composer Andrew Schulz, on a hot air balloon created by cutting-edge artist Patricia Piccinini and on hundreds of exhibitions and performances in national institutions, local arts venues and even local neighbourhoods.
In cyberspace, there will be the means for people across the nation to get involved, telling their Canberra stories and contributing to a growing list of 100 things to like about Canberra.
The normally hard-boiled press will get involved by holding the Walkley Awards in Canberra, an initiative of veteran political journalist Laurie Oakes.
Even the buildings of Canberra would join in, with the Arboretum building and the new Women’s Hospital just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s bigger than “Ben Hur”, it’s complicated, it picks up on existing events, but it also creates new ones.
“No one will ever look at Canberra the same way again,” Archer predicts.