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Centre for Stories

End of year message from Chair Jane den Hollander

This speech was delivered by Centre for Stories Chair Professor Jane den Hollander AO on Friday 10 December 2022 at our end of year celebration.

December 13, 2022

And just like that, 2022, a landmark year in many ways, has come almost to its end.  

I begin tonight by acknowledging the traditional owners of these lands on which we meet, and pay my respects to the Whadjuk Noongar peoples of Western Australia, noting that their lands have never been ceded and never will be.

Friends one and all, donors, our Founders Caroline and John, thank you so much for your support in 2022 and for your attendance this evening.

I reflect that our lives, everywhere, remain compromised by a virus that has become a global phenomenon, frightening in its capacity to dominate and disrupt.

The collective experience from two years of this pandemic must surely be useful to us, informing our thinking and our ideas of how we go on. I am reminded of the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.’  

What we have all learned about survival, about resilience and tolerance and capacity building in these difficult times has enabled us to continue, ensuring that what we do continues to matter, to inform and to delight. All of this has been demonstrated by the team in the extraordinary range of activities – here at the Centre, in the city, across our region, in backyards, in theatres, in universities and in schools. The range and diversity of what has been achieved is too long to name them all, but I encourage you all to read the Annual Report as it is enthralling and a lesson in what is possible if you have a strategy, are determined, and know the community you wish to serve.

To Caroline and John, and to the Centre team of hard working cheerful clever staff – thank you. You have carried the Centre for Stories through a dramatic period, stronger and better than ever. And because of your hard work, your cleverness and capacity, we look forward to a brighter, surer future both nationally and in our region for those who wish to be included, want a voice, or have something to say or do.

Like many of you I was enthralled to watch the launch of the James Ward Space telescope earlier this year. This latest spaceship, going boldly beyond Hubble and where none have gone before, causes us to wonder where the rest of this decade will take us on every front – the final frontier of space is a very big topic these days, but then so is the work on smarter vaccines, the drive for better health equity for all, the eradication of poverty and illiteracy and alongside all of this, the place of the arts and culture to assist us in our communities and better understanding our world and our place in it. And in 2022, the Centre for Stories has continued to contribute to understanding, to inclusion, and doing all of it with style, and creativity. Bravo, the arts matter because they assist us in understanding our world.

And in this world, the great moral challenges of our time – climate change, violence against women and children, and ensuring fairer, safer, educated communities for all – remain as unfinished business and stark reminders of what we need to do to ensure our collective future.

I end by reminding us all that it seems, this far, that we are unique as a species. A highly intelligent life form, on one small blue planet, in an unremarkable solar system, in a universe littered with other systems we have yet to know much about; other than, to date there appears to be nothing like us, Homo sapiens, anywhere else at all.

And so, as we begin to think about our next five years and what contribution we should make, we should remember this astounding uniqueness and opportunity. All of us can and should strive to contribute to ensuring informed, stronger, smarter communities who care and who have hope for our collective futures. This is especially true in arts and culture and how we ensure the inclusion of those, often in the margins, who want to have a voice – who have something to say. 

This is what we do at the Centre for Stories. 2022 has been a successful year, but the team has worked very, very hard for that success. To Caroline, John and the team. Thank you, it’s been a privilege for all of us to be part of the journey and share your vision.

To you our staff, our donors and our friends. What you do matters more each year. We have achieved much but we need your support more than ever.

I wish you all a fulfilling, happy new year in 2023 – a year in which your hopes and dreams are realised.  Always try to be kind and generous, and remember our collective purpose is to do good.

Thank you

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