The History Project

Welcome to our history – told through music, song and story. This project began in 2016 to collect our rich and rewarding history that could be read in one central place. To be reminded of histories gems please subscribe to our e-news where we feature a small teaser.

Here we share some of the highlights of the 40 years since 1979 in which we have been supporting excellent artists from diverse cultural backgrounds and promoting participation in the arts in Victoria.

We invite you to listen to stories from oral history interviews, music from The Boîte events and releases and view footage of concerts since 1979. Our history provides glimpses into the diverse, dynamic and evolving cultural heritage of Victoria.

This history was researched, written and produced by Jen Rose and the team at Well Chosen Words.

The Boîte History Project began in 2016 when we received a funding grant from the Victorian Multicultural Commission enabling historian Jen Rose to undertake oral history interviews with founding members of the organisation.

 

In 2017, a Local History Grant from the Public Records Office of Victoria and funding support from Creative Victoria enabled Jen to undertake more research, more interviews, digitise film and audio of early concerts and develop a website to share our history through music, song and story. 

The Boîte: history through music, song and story was awarded the Community Diversity Award at the 2020 Victorian Community History Awards.

The Beginning

On the 18th of January 1978, a crowd of 350 people packed the Australian Music Centre at The Rocks, Sydney for a concert featuring Greek Musician Timotheos Arvanitakis, David Gulpilil, the Italian Group Bella Ciao and a Spanish classical guitarist. It was the first concert of The Boîte, formed by three university friends Peter Carantinos, Athena Touriki and Takis Constantopedos.

They were inspired to host the event following the success of a concert organised by Peter as part of the Carnivale ’77 program, featuring then unknown composer Arvanitakis. The three had originally planned to host the concert for friends in their own backyard but soon found themselves scouting for a larger venue as it became clear there was significant interest. A series of fortnightly Boîte concerts at the Australian Music Centre followed, featuring music from around the globe, attracting healthy crowds of mostly second-generation migrants.

The Boîte began making an impact very quickly. The program for a March ’78 Boîte concert boasted the following quote from Al Grassby the former Minister for Immigration under the Whitlam Government, credited with introducing the policy of multiculturalism to Australia:
 

 

"The Boîte is the best manifestation of Australia’s cultural revolution. It holds promise of helping to make Australia a more live, vibrant community."

Al Grassby, 1978