13 September 2023

Vale Domenic Mico: Canberra loses a champion of multiculturalism and the arts

| Sally Hopman
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Domenic and Vicki MIco

Domenic Mico with his wife Vicki, pictured in 2018, was a devoted family man with four children. Photo: Facebook.

The ACT Government is preparing to honour the life and work of Domenic Mico, a stalwart of the capital’s arts and multicultural community, who died on Tuesday, 12 September.

He was 76.

As recently as last month, Mr Mico was presented with the inaugural ACT Multicultural Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his 50-plus years contributing to the fabric of Canberra society through his passion for the arts and the city’s multicultural heritage.

Born in Calabria, Italy, in 1946, he migrated to Australia with his parents in the mid-1950s. As a young man, he trained at the then Canberra School of Art and later taught there.

READ ALSO ‘Footprint has changed’ for Multicultural Festival and it may be forced to move from the city

His name was synonymous with almost every community arts event in Canberra over the past 50 years, from the Canberra Festival to perhaps his greatest achievement, the National Multicultural Festival. He also wrote prolifically, including works about the migrant experience of coming to Australia.

ACT Minister for the Arts and Multicultural Affairs Tara Cheyne said on Wednesday (13 September) that the ACT Government extended its deepest sympathies to Mr Mico’s wife Vicki, their four children and his extended family.

“For 50 years, and across many roles including artistic director, CEO, producer, critic and commentator, Mr Mico has enriched Canberra through his deep connection with the multicultural and arts communities, contributing immensely towards the vibrancy and diversity of the city he called home,” Ms Cheyne said.

Genevieve Jacobs with Domenic Mico

Domenic Mico receives a MusicACT MAMAs award from Region’s Group Editor Genevieve Jacobs. Photo: Facebook.

“The National Multicultural Festival, the Canberra Day celebrations that became the Canberra Festival, Smith’s Alternative Bookshop and Tuggeranong Arts Centre are just a few of the cultural institutions that make up Mr Mico’s indelible legacy.”

She said among the many honours bestowed on him during his lifetime were the Centenary Medal in 2001, an Italian knighthood in 2005, and a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2018.

Last month, Ms Cheyne presented Mr Mico with the inaugural ACT Multicultural Lifetime Achievement Award – an honour recognising Mr Mico’s dedication to cultural and artistic enrichment over the last 50 years.

“We will continue to engage with Mr Mico’s family to ensure that his enormous contribution to the fabric of our city is appropriately honoured,” Ms Cheyne said.

Mr Mico died in hospital on Tuesday, 12 September, surrounded by his family.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be publicly announced.

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Peter Graves5:39 pm 15 Sep 23

Domenic Mico was a true contributor to Canberra and our future. He also stood for the ACT Assembly in 1992 – for the(then) Australian Democrats. (when that election also had candidates for the Abolish Self-Government Party).

Domenic Mico was a true stalwart of the capital’s arts and multicultural community.

You have also brought back memories Peter Graves! Dennis Stevenson was elected in the inaugural 1989 ACT general election on a platform (I still can’t believe it) abolishing self-government. Canberrans re-elected him on the same platform in 1992.

I worked in the Assembly at the time. I remember him as always being chirpy and happy. I can only remember he had one office staff member who stood in front of the photocopier all day photocopying. She had a smile for anyone who walked past.
I never met Dennis but I remember he was disliked by all, probably the most hated man in the Assembly!

Peter Graves12:00 pm 16 Sep 23

Thanks for reading. Domenic also stood at that earlier 1989 ACT general election for “The ACT Community Party”.

Against the “Sun-Ripened Warm Tomato Party” standing Emile Brunoro and Rick Kenny.

I remember there were also the Party! Party! Party! party, the Family Team (headed by Bev and Dawn), the Abolish Self-Government Coalition (headed by Dennis, Flo and Gladys), Home Rule OK, A Better Idea, Sleepers Wake, The Party and The Surprise Party.

Craig Duby of the Anti Self-Government movement was elected in 1989. Mr Duby is forgotten but probably one of our most notable MLAs. His No Self Government party name was immediately changed to the Independents Group and then the Hare-Clark Independence Party. Mr Duby was a particular favourite of Ian Warden in his Canberra Times columns. He served as Minister for Finance & Urban Services and was convicted of two drink driving offences whilst minister with responsibility for road safety.

His one notable achievement was the construction of the cover of the Canberra Olympic Swimming Pool dubbed the “Duby Dome”. In the last days of the Kaine ministry he did serve for part of one day as Leader of the Opposition.

Gary Humphries famously quipped that the famous sage “Things that men do live after them” will not apply to Mr Duby.

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