Project Cosmopolitana celebrates the wealth of gifts that have been brought to Australia by those who have come from around the globe in search of a new life. Cosmopolitan can be defined as “to be at ease in and with different countries and cultures”, or “Free from provincial or national bias… where a person can feel at home”, “A place bustling with diverse nationalities and cultures”. Cooma in regional NSW was such a place in the 1950s and 60s. These are pertinent stories to be sharing with the country today.
In 2013 arts company Big hART was invited to Cooma by South East Arts and Cooma Monaro Shire Council to take on a new project. Project Cosmopolitana was born – working across generations and a multitude of cultures. In the stories and heritage of Cooma Big hART discovered a richly layered cosmopolitan past, a time when workers and their families came to work in the region from around the globe to work on the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme. These are stories of sacrifice and loss, love and belonging, of vision and entrepreneurial spirit, pioneering cultural diversity in Australia. The social fabric of Cooma and its surrounds continues to be enriched by subsequent waves of migrants and refugees.
Through workshops in music, dance, oral history and archival research with the Cooma community, Project Cosmopolitana generated a wealth of material to feed into the major theatre production Ghosts in the Scheme, and a wonderful cache of stories to share with the nation.
Enjoy exploring Project Cosmopolitana!