ACIAC Annual Address 2019

Hugging Bears

To those who have had some experience of working in and with the country, China is never simply a cuddly panda nor a fire-breathing dragon, though these are the most common characterisations. And despite the dire warnings of Clive Hamilton, nor are those of us who have relished our China experience simply “panda huggers”. As a proud Australian, I like to think of myself first and foremost as a “koala hugger”.

The role of those of us who are fortunate to work in the field of arts and cultural engagement with China is to be clear eyed while hugging both koalas and pandas. Whether you admire or fear China, increasingly it is going to be a world power with which Australia must deal. Our work in the arts is to remove the boundary line that some people love to draw to increase the separation between “them” and “us”. The arts help us see our common humanity. Artists from both China and Australia speak the same language, the common language of the heart. In this address, I look at some of the issues of living with pandas and koalas in the same forest.

Professor Carrillo Gantner AC


Date: Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Time: 4.00 - 5.30pm

Venue:  Building EZ, Ground Floor, Room EZ.G.23, Whitlam Institute (Female Orphan School),

Western Sydney University Parramatta South Campus (Campus Map (opens in a new window))

Limited seats. RSVP Essential. Please RSVP HERE (opens in a new window) before 8 April, 2019.


Professor Carrillo Gantner studied at University of Melbourne, Stanford University, and Harvard University and later became a professional actor. He was the Cultural Counsellor at the Australian Embassy in Beijing from 1985 to 1987, and served as Chairman of The Asialink Centre at the University of Melbourne from 1992 to 2005. He served as a founding Advisory Board member for The Centre of China in the World at ANU from 2011 to 2013. He was the President of The Myer Foundation from 2005 to 2009 and has been the Chairman of Sidney Myer Fund since 2004. He is the godfather of the new Asia Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (‘Asia TOPA’) in Melbourne.

In 2006, the University of New South Wales awarded Professor Gantner an Honorary Doctorate of Letters for services to the arts and the community. In 2008, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of The Australian Academy of the Humanities. In 2014, the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China awarded Carrillo their highest honour for foreigners: “The Cultural Exchange Contribution Award” for his outstanding contributions to China’s cultural exchanges with the world. This Award was presented by a Vice Premier of China in a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Professor Gantner has written for various journals and other publications, always working to enhance Australia’s reputation as a constructive partner in the Asia Pacific. In April 2017, he was appointed Adjunct Professor of the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, Western Sydney University and in January 2019, he was appointed to a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC).