Lysicrates Foundation restores culture to reward Sydney with more culture

John Patricia Azarias

The much-anticipated unveiling of Sydney’s fully restored Lysicrates monument will take place this Sunday at the Royal Botanical Gardens thanks to the initiative and drive of The Lysicrates Foundation and a plethora of supporters from the community at large.


The much-anticipated unveiling of Sydney’s fully restored Lysicrates monument will take place this Sunday at the Royal Botanical Gardens thanks to the initiative and drive of The Lysicrates Foundation and a plethora of supporters from the community at large.

The Foundation, brainchild of John and Patricia Azarias, will be presenting three events that will adorn the rich cultural tapestry of Sydney:

The unveiling of the Lysicrates Monument, fully restored to its original beauty, by Mrs Linda Hurley and Minister Dominic Perrottet MLA, the launch of the 2016 Lysicrates Foundation commemorative book by His Excellency David Hurley, Governor of New South Wales and the announcement of the three finalists for the 2017 Lysicrates Prize for playwriting by Lee Lewis, Artistic Director of Griffin Theatre Company.

The Monument  →

The 1868 Lysicrates monument, now in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Farm Cove, was the brainchild of litterateur, journalist, solicitor, QC, Attorney-General, three times Premier, and Chief Justice of New South Wales, (Sir) James Martin (1820-1886), in whose honour ‘Martin Place’ in Sydney is named.

“Sydney’s replica of the Lysicrates Monument of Athens is not only a beautiful structure in itself, but is also the embodiment of the close links between the Sydney of today and the Greece of the classical world. So by restoring Sydney’s 1868 monument, we are also strengthening the deep connections between Greece and Australia, and reminding Australians of the high prestige and extraordinary influence of Greek culture in many countries across the globe,” says John Azarias.


Lysicrates Prize →

Once John and Patricia Azarias raised the funds to restore the monument, Patricia went a creative step further and suggested restoring the drama festival that the original Monument in Athens commemorated.

Indeed, the couple, created in Sydney the Lysicrates Prize for playwriting, where, for the first time in about 2500 years, it is the audience, which picks the winner.  Now in its third year, the Lysicrates Prize has, so far, been amazingly successful in its aim of encouraging Australian creativity within the broad context set by classical Greece.


“It is worth pointing out that right from the outset, our original core donors have all come from the Greek-Australian community, notably our dear friends Greg and Sandra Gav.  Others of Greek background who contributed to the restoration fund were Peter and Irene Andrews, Peter and Helen Coombes, Stephen and Magdalena Kamper and George and Ann Thomas,” added John and Patricia Azarias.

The same was true of the donors to the drama competition, who included Minas and Hellene Coroneo, and Michael, Angela and Louise Diamond.

They also received highly valued contributions from Emannuel and Louise Alfieris, Graham and Betty Athanaseris, Nick and Effie Andriotakis, George Confos, Iphigenia Kallinikos and Theodore Simos.

During their first two crucial start-up years, fully twenty-five per cent of their financial backing came from the Greek-Australian community, and both of them are extremely grateful to all the donors for their vision and generosity.

“But we did not want to make this an exclusively Greek-Australian list.  So we decided to reach out, and now, among our other donors, are Australians from a wide range of backgrounds – African, Anglo-Celtic, Indian, Italian, Jewish, Lebanese – Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim.  Here we have another testimony to the vibrancy and diversity of this fabulous city.”

John and Patricia expressed their gratitude for the generous support and contributions of many groups and individuals who collaborated to manifest their cultural vision for Sydney and strengthen inter-cultural bonds within the community.

They also want to acknowledge the support of Constantine Boulougouris and Nick Kipriotis, two lawyers who very generously and painstakingly created the legal basis for the Lysicrates Foundation.

“It is very important to us to put on record our tremendous appreciation for the untiring and vital co-operation of Dr Stavro Kyrimis, Consul General of Greece in Sydney.

Our remarkable contributors from the academic world, both Classical Greek and Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Peter Wilson, Andrew Hartwig, and Leslie Beaumont (Classical) and Vrasidas Karalis (Byzantine and Modern Greek), have devoted their extraordinary talents, and their time, to making the Lysicrates Foundation books, and the whole Lysicrates project, the success it is turning out to be.

“We would also like to highlight the support we have received from Australian political leaders of Greek background from all three levels of government: Sophie Cotsis, Courtney Houssos, Stephen Kamper, Arthur Sinodinos, George Souris, Angela Vithoulkas and Toni Zeltzer.

“Lastly, we would like to draw attention to two Athens-based expressions of support – the wonderful message we received from Yiorgo Kaminis, Mayor of Athens, for our inaugural commemorative book, and the establishment of the Athens Friends of The Lysicrates Foundation, at a marvellous function sponsored by John Griffin, Australian Ambassador to Greece, with the full co-operation of Katerina Xagorari, Greek Ambassador to Australia.  The guest of honour was Michali Kokkinos, head of the General Secretariat of Greeks Abroad in the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who had recently visited Australia and seen our Monument.

“And we were delighted that among those participating was the distinguished Greek artist, Despina Meimaroglou, who had just returned to Athens after attending the second Lysicrates Prize Competition here in Sydney.  Hopefully, this will be just the beginning of a two-way flow between the cultural worlds of Australia and Greece.

“What is so moving is that our supporters have come from the whole wider Greek world – Asia Minor (Athanaseris, Cotsis, Gav, Kallinikos, Meimaroglou); Cephalonia (Sinodinos); Crete (Andriotakis); the Cyclades (Xagorari); Dodecanese (Kokkinos); Ithaca (Vithoulkas); Kastellorizo (Confos, Diamond); Kythira (Alfieris, Coroneo, Simos, Souris); Macedonia (Kamper); Mytilene (Zeltzer); Peloponnese/Morea (Andrews, Boulougouris, Coombes, Karalis, Kipriotis, Kyrimis, Thomas); Roumeli (Houssos).  The Azarias family itself is from the Meander Valley in Asia Minor, married into families from Cyprus, Eastern Thrace and Thessaly in Alexandria, where John was born and raised.

“So the good ship Lysicrates, our own Argo, has had many highly capable Greek hands at the oars.  Long may she sail!” John and Patricia proudly conclude.

Event details →

Lysicrates Monument

Farm Cove, Royal Botanic Garden
Sydney on Sunday 16th October 2016 at 11:15am


GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.