• arts & culture
  • regional

12 July 2017

The founder and patron of Castlemaine State Festival has passed away.

Berek Segan AM OBE migrated to Melbourne from Poland in 1934, at the age of 18, fleeing the rising tides of anti-Semitism in Europe. He arrived in Australia with a violin in hand, already a great lover of art and music, determined to make a good life in his adopted home.

Over the course of his life, Berek became a successful businessman and at one point invested in a small milling business in central Victoria. In the early 1970s, on his way to visit the mill, he passed through the town of Castlemaine. Beguiled by its historic buildings and picturesque streets, Berek immediately saw the potential for a local arts festival.

Working closely with the local community and various sponsor organisations, Berek founded the Castlemaine State Festival in 1976, a biennial event that celebrates world class creativity in a passionate local context. Over the course of 42 years, it has become one of the premier cultural events in regional Australia.

A lifelong patron of the arts, Berek was honoured on many occasions, including an Honorary Certificate of Citizenship by the Mayor and Councillors of Castlemaine, a town that is forever changed thanks to his creative vision.

Vale Berek Segan, and thank you.