My time working at the PHCC spanned nearly 20 years.
It was a rewarding time, a role through which I was privileged to meet many people. I’d like to acknowledge and thank those who served on the committees, ran programs, attended programs, and contributed and supported the Centre in any way.
Reflecting on the years, I remember starting in 2002 with a very low bank balance, no funding, and the introduction of public liability insurance. The latter closed children’s programs such as circus skills overnight and necessitated the restricting of programs such as Life Drawing. Working with Jackie Fristacity, then a new councillor, my first job was a grant application for funding. With this and support from the school we were able to upgrade the studio. In 2002 there was a computer but no internet. My 10 hours a week still involved writing and posting invoices, printing programs and flyers, writing letters, handwritten enrolment lists, writing receipts for everything and going periodically to the bank to bank! Phone calls were the main means of communication. In those first few years we set up the first internet, enabling easier circulation of promotional material to schools, other neighbourhood houses and the local papers, the Melbourne Times, the Leader (remember those?) and the Age. A few years later a student from the PHSC designed and set up our first website. Since then, the digital world has exploded, so now most promotion and communication, etc. is online.
Over the years the diversity of programs have been offered has been considerable; Watercolour, Oil Painting, Portraiture, Botanical Drawing, Belly Dancing, Sewing, Felting, Cooking, Meditation, Mindfulness, Mosaics, Propaganda, Cool Cats (teen drama group), Sing, String Group, History Research, History Walks, Book Club, Paper Making, French Polishing, Bike Maintenance, Fix It, Bridge, Mahjong, Fermented Food, Bororo –and these are just the programs I recall off the top of my head. There have also been exhibitions, Open Days, the 40-Year Celebration as well as the Life Drawing weekly, the salons and other LMS events.
In 2007-08 we initiated the PHCC garden movement. It was controversial, but, eventually after 12 years came into being on the Bocce Courts next to the NCRSNH. The Greening of the Melbourne General Cemetery was launched during a Covid Lockdown in September 2020. It took just over a year for the first planting to begin, and I hope in time this program will blossom. While there is some politics to be negotiated, in a world where Climate Change is finally no longer on the back burner, I hope this will be a program, especially coming out of the constraints of the Covid era, that will help take PHCC into the future. It is certainly one which I look forward to being involved with. I hope that the MGC will become a landscape that supports, safeguards, and rebuilds the rich diversity of fauna and flora.
Thank you, everyone,