Tribute to Domenic Mico OAM

Tuggeranong Tribute to Domenic Mico OAM after his passing on 12 September 2023

With admiration and great respect, the Tuggeranong Community Arts Association Board, staff, and wider artistic community acknowledge yesterday’s passing of Domenic Mico OAM, hailed widely for his work building and shaping Canberra’s arts and cultural scene.

Domenic is an integral part of the Tuggeranong Arts Centre story. First joining the TCAA team as the region’s first Community Arts Officer (and later Director) in March 1991, he led the process of securing funding and building the Tuggeranong Arts Centre 25 years ago and was always coming up with ideas and projects that challenged a common attitude at the time, best captured as: ‘Why Tuggeranong? Those people don’t like or want art. Art is for the city.’

Mico was renowned for his eccentric, experimental art projects set against the vast backdrops of the valley and the lake. One of his favourite activities was to float large hand-made effigies out onto Lake Tuggeranong and set them on fire! Back then, Domenic used to invite artists like Splinters Theatre of Spectacle, who were an avant-garde performance troupe who famously blew and lit things up and staged surreal performances around Canberra and Australia between 1985 and 1998, to come and work with Tuggeranong locals.

There was, famously, an incident in which a giant Medusa head made by Splinters sank in the middle of the lake, with Splinters director David Branson on the walkie talkie to Domenic, telling him, a little too calmly, ‘it’s sinking, it’s sinking’ and Domenic replying into the walkie talkie, a little less calmly, ‘don’t let it sink, don’t let it sink’! It sank.

These early large-scale events created in the local Tuggeranong community an appetite and expectation that public artistic events could wow them and transport them through creativity; to make them look at the world differently.

TCAA is marking the 25th birthday of the TAC building on 18 November. Domenic’s legacy will be honoured as part of these celebrations; in Domenic’s words, “After all, people do not live by bread and mortgage payments alone. The community has a right to be exposed to the arts and to have opportunities to take part in them.”

Mico’s Tuggeranong legacies will remain forever.