Business community members have pledged $1.25 million towards a new cultural centre during a special event held at Philhellene restaurant last Monday.

During the event, the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV) officially announced and honoured the benefactors who donated generously, cementing this way, their support for the GOCMV tower.

“Tonight is a continuation of the journey of the Greek Community of Melbourne. A journey filled with almost all the components of a Greek tragedy. But thankfully, this story has a happy ending. We are here tonight because we recognise that we have not been alone on this journey,” said the co-president of the Festival Antipodes Committee and GOCMV board member, Leonidas Vlahakis.

“I feel that we are obliged to support the efforts of the GOCMV,” said Mr Greg Kaias, one of the major benefactors who along the Beirut Hellenic Bank donated $250,000.

Kaias, currently overseas, spoke to Neos Kosmos outlining the significance the new cultural centre holds for the Greek Australian Community, present and future, as a whole.

“We need to maintain and strengthen the bonds between the younger generations of Greek Australians and our heritage, and I believe that the new cultural centre will help towards that direction,” said Mr Kaias, who called for all the community to help the GOCMV in its effort.

Apart from Kaias and the Hellenic Beirut Bank, the rest of the benefactors, who donated $50,000 each are: Peter Adamopoulos and Jordanis Korosidis, the Leonidas Argyropoulos family, Nick Andrianakos and family, Sakis and Litsa Athanasiadis, the family of Mr Stylianos Koukouvitakis, Mr George Mantzis and family, the Papastergiadis family, Tony Peres and family, the Anastasios Revis family, Mr Nikos Sikavitsas and Harry Stamoulis, as well as the Tsalikidis family, Arthur Tsouhantaris and Dennis Zapantis and family.

Apart from the benefactors honoured on Monday, the event was also attended by Mr David Southwick MP, member for Caulfield, the Consul for Education Harry Ladopoulos (representing the Consul General) and the majority of the GOCMV Board members.

It can also be revealed that The Pan Cretan Association had pledged another $50,000 towards the tower, and as the president of GOCMV Mr Bill Papastergiadis indicated to Neos Kosmos more community groups will be approached in due course, in an effort to raise more funds for the construction of the new cultural centre.

“We did not set any financial target in regards to funds that could be raised from the community,” said Mr Papastergiadis. “At the start of the process, it was difficult to form a view as there are not too many similar projects in Australia which could have guided us on how a community might respond.

“However, when we commenced approaching people, practically all said yes. At that point, we felt comfortable that there was strong support for this project and a willingness to leave a legacy for the next generations of Greek Australians. We have formed a subcommittee compromising amongst others, Bill Kardimitsis and Stelios Koukouvitakis to continue the process of maximizing community support to the project,” Mr Papastergiadis said, adding that the cultural centre will have four floors available largely free of charge to Greek Australians in Melbourne and given the significant investment by the GOCMV on this project, it would be appreciated if other organisations also assisted.

“The centre is a free offering by the GOCMV, with a substantial cost underpinned by the GOCMV” he concluded.

As previously reported, one floor of the building to be constructed, will house a cultural centre, with spaces for rotating exhibitions and other cultural events. Another floor will be the Resource, Language and Archive Centre. A third floor will be a function centre and most of these spaces will be offered largely free of charge.

The new funds pledged from the Greek Australian Business community on Monday, will be added to the $2 million funding from the State government of Victoria. The GOCMV will soon start the process of selling other assets hoping to raise another $5m. Which will be used to lift the project of the ground. It is estimated that the GOCMV tower will cost some $14 million and the construction will commence in 2012.