As reported on GCT last week, the Sydney Opera House will be lit on 25 March to commemorate 200 years of Greek Independence.
Before NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the announcement, 22-year-old Greek Australian Costa Dantos created a petition-Make the Sydney Opera House Greek Flag display free for Independence Day 25 March 2021!
Dantos is an active member of the Greek community in NSW. He is currently the Treasurer of the Brotherhood of Chalkidiki “O Aristotelis” of NSW, Secretary of the Pan-Thessalian Federation “Karaiskakis” of NSW, Delegate of the Pan-Macedonian Association of NSW, Public Relations Officer of the (Hellenic) Macedonian Brotherhood of Newcastle “Pavlos Melas” and founder of the recently created Pan-Macedonian Youth Association of NSW “King Philip II”.
He is also active in the Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Parish in Hamilton, Newcastle and the St Sophia Greek Orthodox Parish on Bourke Street, Darlinghurst.
“I am very passionate about my Greek heritage, particularly for a third-generation Greek Australian born here and having not travelled to Greece yet for multiple reasons including COVID-19 this year. “I considered myself very Australianised until mainly at university and work when non-Greeks admired that I was of a Greek heritage, and after I joined many Greek organisations. But growing up in the St George area of Sydney with a high Greek population, retaining some elements of my Greekness was inevitable,” he told GCT.
“I hold lots of regional pride too in my familial descents with my father’s side from the Macedonian region of Chalkidiki and some of those being from the Troy area including Aegean Island of Tenedos now part of Turkey and others further inland on a coastal town on the Propontis (Sea of Marmara) on the Asia Minor side near the current town of Biga in Turkey known as Pigaia in Greek. And my mother’s side from several areas in the Thessalian region of Karditsa.”
Upon hearing that the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW were request to pay $50,000 to display the Greek flag on the sails of the Sydney Opera House on March 25, Dantos took it upon himself to start the petition.
“My main goal was to see the Opera House lit up, preferably a flag than just the blue and white colours as it has been suggested for tomorrow but still is better than nothing. A few hours later, I used the few spare time I had to create this greatly important petition without hesitation. I shared it in a lot of places and was approached by Greek radio stations to promote it. The petition received nearly 10,000 views, and 1,200+ signatures were received within the few days it was open for,” he added.
Not only did he create the petition that circulated on social media, but he also put in a lot of behind the scenes work.
“I sent an email to the Sydney Opera House and received a response a few days later. I gave them a link to the petition as well and the number of signatories at that time. They explained the $50,000 would be given to the contractors who organise the lights rather than it being benefits reaped by the Sydney Opera House. I forwarded their email response and my email to them (from the petition) to the NSW Premier’s Office.
In my email to the NSW Premier’s Office, I mainly requested a $50,000 grant be awarded to the Greek community to pay for this particularly for their efforts and contribution to Australia, particularly past and also present, and did not think the community raising money for this expensive one-day albeit terrific event was feasible.”
Then last week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that the Sydney Opera House would be lit on March 25.
The young, proud Greek-Australian’s reaction…. “I was super excited when I found out about it. I was not having the best of days that day but this really made me happy. The fact I played some or a very large part in making it happen really meant a lot and is definitely one of my greater achievements so far in the Greek extracurricular activities I partake in. I made plans on my calendar to go see the flag lit up immediately after work on Thursday night and can’t wait, knowing that what I did likely helped make that happen or that I at least did the best that I could have being an individual and in such short time.”
“Some people said to go to the Greek media myself when I was instead approached, ultimately I do a lot behind the scenes and often stay hidden in Greek organisations because I just want to see what I want and what I like to happen,” he concluded.