Photos courtesy Mike Zafiropoulos AM, JP and Marcello D'Amico

MAV presented life memberships to Mike Zafiropoulos AM, JP and Marcello D’Amico, who helped to build our organisation.

On 15 Dec 2022, MAV offered life memberships to two people who helped to build our organisation of the past 50 years: Mike Zafiropoulos AM, JP and Marcello D'Amico.

Mike Zafiropoulos AM, JP (1973–1983, President, Festival of all Nations; 1983–1984, Chairman, MAV) was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to community through executive roles with a range of arts, multicultural, charitable, media and government.

He is a Board member of Channel 31; was Mayor of Fitzroy; Deputy Mayor of Manningham, Director of Fronditha Care; chairperson of Hellenic Week the precursor of Glendi Antipodes Festival; a Trustee of the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation; Director of ethnic affairs at the Department of Immigration; he was an Advisory Board Member for the Institute for Social Research; a Board Member of Tasmanian Regional Arts; the General Manager of SBS Melbourne; Vice President of Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria; Immigration Museum advisory committee member; and Chair of Regional Arts Victoria amongst many other roles.

As committed advocate for cultural diversity, Mike is best remembered as the founder of our organisation. In the 1970s, as the Mayor of then, working class Fitzroy. Mike saw the disparity and inequity of support for newly arrived communities to engage in cultural activity - Seeing that national and state arts funding was directed principally to high-end, city based, major arts organisations – presenting almost exclusively western European-based content.

The arts did not reflect the people of Melbourne – the post-war migrant communities or the newly arrived communities from South Asia. He wanted to rebalance the situation.

So, in 1973, with no funding, he established the Festival of All Nations with a team of like-minded supporters. This small festival, housed the in auditorium of Fitzroy Town Hall, became the roots of the Melbourne Spoleto Festival - which then became Melbourne Festival and in 1983, Multicultural Arts Victoria.

Marcello D’Amico (MAV Board Member: 1996-2016) was born on the island of Salina (Italy) and migrated to Australia at the age of fourteen.

At 16, he attended the National Gallery Art School Melbourne (now Victorian College of the Arts) to study drawing and painting and then attended RMIT to study sculpture – going on to win many accolades for his work through over one hundred group and solo exhibitions in Australia, Italy and Canada.

Marcello’s skills and interests are as diverse as Melbourne – equally passionate about the arts and sport, he is a multi-instrumentalist musician, writer, illustrator, and theatre maker.

He wrote on sport for Il Globo, becoming the first Italian Umpire in the VFL in the 1960s and coaching soccer’s State League.

Marcello served for 20 years on the board of MAV, helping to guide the organisation through challenging times with generosity, humour, and affection.

He continues to support the organisation as it adapts to a rapidly changing environment.

In 2002, he was awarded the Australia Medal to commemorate the Centenary of Federation and in 2009, received Victoria's Multicultural Award for Excellence (Service Delivery to Multicultural Victoria, Arts).

In 2017, he also received the honour of Victorian Senior of the Year Promotion of Multiculturalism Award - recognising an incredible body of work in music, art and writing that has enhanced the lives of countless people.

As leaders with a tireless commitment to cultural equity in this State, we thank you Mike Zafiropoulos and Marcello D’Amico for your vision.