In April of this year, Arena said farewell to our most recent city centre, a former warehouse on Kerr Street, Fitzroy. It’s the third city centre we’ve had since we established our first on Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy, in 1983. But the 2020 farewell had far greater significance, since it marked the conclusion of our active involvement with printing, both of our own publications and commercially, through a full-service firm. That would have been the occasion for some sort of ceremony had it not occurred at the height of the first COVID-19 lockdown. History pays no tribute to histories, the innumerable conversations and stories therein entwined. In the absence of a public celebration, and as an exercise in itself, it seems worthwhile to consider the decades-long, multiply articulated practice that was focused on Arena’s city centres. Here we reflect upon what three generations of Arena activists had been trying to do in the context of a politics that began in the twentieth-century New Left and passed through multiple versions of combining intellectual, social and cultural collective practice that were in a complex relationship with left traditions. We look at how this got done, and briefly consider the directions we’ll take as we inaugurate our fourth city centre.
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